Students begin studying Chinese in public schools in Saudi Arabia

19/01/20

The Chinese economy has witnessed rapid growth in recent years, transforming the country into a global leader in technology and manufacturing. (Reuters)
  • The inclusion of the Chinese language will enhance the cultural diversity of students in Saudi Arabia, and contribute to the achievement of the goals in education for Vision 2030

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education has begun teaching Chinese at eight public secondary schools, as the first stage of the ministry’s plan to include it in public education.
According to the ministry’s spokesperson, Ibtisam Al-Shehri, four schools in Riyadh, two in Jeddah, and two in the eastern province, including two girls’ schools, would participate.
Al-Shehri also noted that studying Chinese would be optional for students, not compulsory.
The Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Twitter for including Chinese in the country’s educational system.
“I hope that the emerging generation in the Kingdom will master the Chinese language, love Chinese culture, and embrace an honorable future for the two friendly countries,” he said.
Chinese was first introduced to Saudi schools during the crown prince’s visit to Beijing in February 2019, as part of an agreement between the two countries to strengthen bilateral friendship and cooperation.
Several initiatives were launched with different organizations in the education and training sectors to introduce the language to the public.
One of the biggest initiatives was in collaboration with the Arab Open University and Nabegh Educational Center to teach more than 3,500 teachers and employees in the education sector in 12 cities around the country.
Abdulrazaq Othman Abdullah, 38, is a graduate from China, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in administration and financial management. He and his wife taught Chinese to Saudi teachers in Madinah.
“The most important outcome from this project is to help the teachers overcome psychological barriers while studying a foreign language, and eliminate the assumptions associated with the Chinese language,” Abdullah told Arab News.

I hope that the emerging generation in the Kingdom will master the Chinese language, love Chinese culture, and embrace an honorable future for the two friendly countries.

Chen Weiqing, Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

“It is very important that teaching Chinese begins from secondary school, it will broaden the students’ horizons and introduce them to a new culture and a new world that they would not know of without the language.”
Knowledge of the Chinese language will create a new field of opportunities for Saudis, be it in tourism, technology, commerce, investment, science, medicine, diplomacy, or education and academia.
The introduction of Chinese into the curriculum is a step toward opening new academic horizons for students of various educational levels in the Kingdom. Saudi universities are gradually including Chinese in their educational plans and academic activities.

FASTFACT

An agreement to teach Chinese in Saudi schools was reached during the crown prince’s visit to Beijing in February 2019.

“I have to admit that I was worried at the beginning, especially that I was teaching adults with years of experience in education,” Abdullah said.
“However, by the end of the experience I was very satisfied with the outcome. We as a population have a sense of curiosity, we like to seize opportunities and we are welcoming of everything new and willing to learn.”
From his experience as a student in China, Abdullah said that there were obvious cultural similarities between the two countries and that both societies were welcoming of each other.
During the crown prince’s visit to Beijing, Chinese leaders agreed to help facilitate Chinese language learning through its the country’s Confucius Institute, which promotes language learning and cultural exchange around the world.
China is home to almost a fifth of the world’s population, and has been growing significantly in the past four decades at an average of nearly 10 percent a year, transforming the country into a global leader in technology and manufacturing.
The inclusion of the Chinese language will enhance the cultural diversity of students in the Kingdom, and contribute to the achievement of the goals in education for Vision 2030.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Investment deals worth SR2.9bn signed for Saudi education sector

Time: 17 January, 2020 

Saudi investment chiefs have joined forces with a leading schools’ operator in the Kingdom to help promote investment opportunities in the education system. (SPA)
  • SAGIA signed a cooperation agreement with Al-Motaqadimah Schools
  • SR193 billion was allocated to education in the 2020 Saudi national budget

RIYADH: Saudi investment chiefs have joined forces with a leading schools’ operator in the Kingdom to help promote investment opportunities in the education system.
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) signed a cooperation agreement with Al-Motaqadimah Schools Co. (MSC) to develop and market opportunities for investment and work to activate them in cooperation with relevant authorities.
MSC penned investment and cooperation deals in the education sector worth SR2.9 billion ($772 million) through the “Invest in Saudi Arabia” platform.
They included a cooperation agreement with real estate developer Tatweer Buildings Co. (TBC) to construct, operate and maintain 58 educational complexes over three academic years in the Kingdom, with a capacity of 70,000 students, which would contribute to creating 5,000 jobs.
It also signed an accord with Asma Capital to establish an investment company, a cooperation agreement with Adem Capital to issue initial instruments worth SR1 billion for the Kingdom’s first services company, and a cooperation deal with Google for Education to support the Internet giant’s expansion plans in the Saudi market.
The signing of the agreements came during a ceremony organized by SAGIA at its headquarters in Riyadh, and attended by SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar, representatives of the companies investing in the education sector and a number of officials from relevant government bodies.
SAGIA works to invest in the education system in cooperation and integration with other relevant organizations to promote private-sector investment in the growing field of education.
According to SAGIA statistics, the total number of licenses issued in the education sector in 2019 was 100 percent more than the previous year.
SR193 billion was allocated to education in the 2020 Saudi national budget.

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Jobs market ‘will drive Saudi education,’ says education minister

23/12/19

  • Community colleges to be converted to provide vocational training on in-demand jobs

RIYADH: The Saudi education system is to be realigned away from academic study and toward meeting the demands of the modern jobs market, the education minister has pledged.

Hamad Al-Asheikh said community colleges would be converted to provide vocational training linked to the requirements of employers, and the number of admissions to purely theoretical higher education courses would be cut.

“We are exploring the professions and sub-specialties that the job market is heading to, in order to develop curricula and educational fields in our universities to meet the specific needs of the market,” he said.

Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh

“The ministry supports professional diplomas in universities to achieve efficient spending in the admission process, respond to the needs of the labor market, and reduce acceptance in theoretical specialties.

“For example, if the labor market has a certain profession that does not require studying for four years, and qualifying for it requires a one-year or two-year program, why should I burden the student and the community with the costs of four years?”

The minister was speaking at the University of Tabuk, where he inaugurated a clinical simulation unit for medical training and specialized skills, and an industrial innovation and robotics center.

Al-Asheikh said the innovation center, close to the NEOM giga-propject, would support development projects in the region. He noted the importance of partnerships with the private sector, especially in product innovation and diversification, to support the Kingdom’s economy.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Women teach young boys for the first time in Saudi public schools

02/09/19

Early childhood is the most important stage in building a child’s personality, says Suaad Al-Mansour
JEDDAH: Female teachers will educate boys in 1,460 state-run schools across the Kingdom for the first time.

“With this project, the Ministry of Education aims to improve the efficiency of the educational system and ensure that every child has access to quality education around the Kingdom,” Suaad Al-Mansour, assistant director general of education in Jeddah, told Arab News.

Al-Mansour Said The Early Childhood Schools Project Included Kindergartens For Boys And Girls Between Aged 4-5 Years-Old And The First Three Primary Grades For Students Between 6-8 Years.

She Said There Will Be No Mixed Classes In Primary Grades. “There Are Separate Classrooms, Toilets, And Other Facilities For The Young Boys And Girls.”

IN NUMBERS
1,460 – Early Education Schools

3,313 – Classrooms for 83,000 kindergarten students

3,483 – Classrooms for 81,000 early childhood education students

13.5% of young male students will be taught by women

Besides improving the quality of education, the ministry aims to increase space utilization efficiency and take full advantage of public school buildings.

According to the ministry, women will teach 13.5 percent of young boys, saving $533 million from the education budget in space alone.

Moreover, the ministry also aspires to increase children’s enrollment in public kindergarten schools versus private schools by 21 percent this year.

During the summer vacation, the ministry set up 3,313 kindergarten classes to accommodate 83,000 children.

Al-Mansour noted that early childhood is the most important stage in building a child’s personality, and said a female teacher is more approachable and less intimidating for young boys at that stage.

Arab News

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“This project will bridge the gap young boys used to face after moving from kindergarten to primary school. The classes at early childhood schools are specially designed to fit their needs at this age, and being taught by women will give them a more fruitful learning experience.”

Many private schools around the Kingdom assigned primary teaching to female teachers decades ago. The General Department of Education in Jeddah Region has held workshops with leaders in the private sector to share their experience with public institutions.

For the first time, female teachers are teaching young boys in 1,460 government schools across the Kingdom. Women will teach 13.5 percent of young male pupils, saving SR2 billion from the education budget in space alone

Arab News visited the 177th Primary School in Jeddah and met with the staff and young pupils.

Principal Rajhah Al-Jihani told Arab News that she was impressed with the community’s awareness of the importance of the Early Childhood Project.

FASTFACT

“In our school, we have a total of 6 classes for young boys, two classes for each grade. The ministry has given us 200 seats, and 180 seats are already occupied. It expresses the community’s welcoming of the project.”

Al-Jihani explained that the school organized a training course for teachers on early childhood teaching, including teaching techniques and upbringing strategies, as well as an introduction on the project and its goals.

Maryam Al-Zahrani, an early childhood teacher at the school with 22 years of experience, said that the first day is crucial, and that it was “necessary for the student to feel that the woman in front of him is more like their mother” than just a teacher.

“I nominated myself as soon as the project was announced,” she said. “I am happy with this experience.”

About 6 million students across the 13 administrative regions of the Kingdom returned to school on Sunday after almost four months of summer vacation.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Misk Academy launches 14 programs to train young Saudis

02/09/19

Over 1,900 people ready to develop skills in digital world
RIYADH: The Misk Academy, part of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk), has launched the third round of the Misk Udacity Program, in partnership with Udacity which aims to develop and build skills in the digital world.

Over 6,000 people have applied to the program, with 1,966 accepted to 14 online programs in programming, data, digital marketing and artificial intelligence.

In addition to the online course, students based in Riyadh and Makkah will attend a weekly session with their trainer, with seminars also being held at other locations across the country, in other areas, in order to initiate debates about the subjects and review contents and ideas raised.

The Misk Udacity Program is considered a proactive step to develop technological pioneers’ skills in the Kingdom.

HIGHLIGHTS
• The Misk Udacity Program is considered a proactive step to develop technological pioneers’ skills in the Kingdom.

• It aims to build and raise the knowledge and technical skills of Saudi job seekers, and also aims to develop their employability in the data and technology sector.

It aims to build and raise the knowledge and technical skills of Saudi job seekers, and also aims to develop their employability in the data and technology sector.

The program reflects Misk’s academic methodology which aims to present a comprehensive educational system that starts with training and ends with empowering graduates to become successful in the job market and compete at an international levels; 65 percent of graduates achieve progress in their career six months after the end of the program.

Misk is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and providing opportunities for the Kingdom’s youth and leading them to a bright future through Vision 2030 in transforming and diversifying the Saudi economy.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Zaidi, director of the General Department of Education in Makkah

Time: August 28, 2019  

Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Zaidi

Dr. Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Zaidi has been made director of the General Department of Education in Makkah region by the Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh.
Previously, Al-Zaidi was the deputy director of the Center for the Development of University Education in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Al-Zaidi holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Education at Umm Al-Qura University. He also received his master’s degree from the same university in educational management.
He earned his doctorate in educational leadership and management from the College of Education at the University of Newcastle in the UK.
Al-Zaidi began his career as a teacher in 1986, working in several schools until 1994. After that, he became a supervisor of biology at the Educational Supervision Center in Jeddah. He then became the assistant director at the center between 1997 and 2000.
Al-Zaidi had been an assistant professor of educational administration at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah since 2011, before becoming the head of the department in 2012.
On Wednesday, the General Department of Education in Makkah region will launch “Future Gate,” a digital transformation initiative.
The initiative aims to promote digital learning and change the traditional setting in schools, encouraging more technology-enabled teaching and learning.
The first phase will be in the first semester of the coming academic year, featuring 80 schools, before expanding to a further 175 in the second phase.

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Cyber Saber Hackathon boosts skills of Saudi students

Time: August 07, 2019  

The hackathon, sponsored by Integrated Telecom Co., will be held in September.

Cyber Saber Hackathon will continue to support Saudi talent in achieving new heights in the cybersecurity industry through hands-on application of several cyber-attack and defense tactics, said Samer Omar, CEO of VirtuPort’s 7th MENA Information Security Conference 2019.

He added that the hackathon, sponsored by Integrated Telecom Company (ITC), will be held on Sept. 9-10.

Ghassan Itani, CEO of ITC, said: “Cybersecurity remains one of the critical elements in ensuring a successful digital economy. ITC’s sponsorship of the Cyber Saber Hackathon is one of our initiatives to invest in corporate social responsibility in line with Vision 2030, where our youth will play a critical role in the future of defending and protecting our company and the overall digital asset.”

The hackathon is characterized by its ability to provide a holistic simulation environment that will allow contestants to experience real-world hacking and breach scenarios of vital sectors including financial sectors, airports, oil and gas industry among others. The students will get to interact with it through their computers.

What distinguishes the hackathon’s model smart city is that the students will experience and witness the implications of cyberattacks and the importance of equipping themselves with the right knowledge to face the attackers.

The organizers of the hackathon said the competition has been designed to prepare the contestants for the challenges they will face in protecting the organizations they will work for.

The third edition of the hackathon is considered to be one of the most important competitions in the region. In the last two editions, more than 20 Saudi private and public universities participated.

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Saudi scholarships: An investment in the nation’s future

Time: July 22, 2019  

Saudi Scholarship students with Saudi officials during an event at the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. (SPA file photo)
  • Kingdom provides financial assistance and fully paid tuition to all who qualify for scholarship
  • Many of the current recipients of scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries of the policy

JEDDAH: In an age when it is regarded as both essential and expensive, Saudi Arabia’s scholarship program provides a world-class education, ensuring financial assistance and paid tuition to all those who qualify.

Beneficiaries of the program study abroad, returning with degrees and skills needed for the Kingdom’s development into a modern society.

In 1928, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud ordered the first batch of students to be sent on scholarships to Egypt. A total of 14 went to complete their education in medicine, agriculture, engineering and law.

It was a crucial time for the young Kingdom, and the students contributed towards building the formative nation. Many became ministers, councillors, ambassadors and engineers in top positions, helping establish ministries and forming Saudi government entities.

The early Kingdom understood the importance of education as a vehicle for national development. Today, Saudi Arabia is among the leading countries measured by annual expenditure on education, with an impressive SR193 billion ($51.4 billion) allocated for Vision 2030 initiatives, as well as projects across the Kingdom, in 2019.

Success stories abound: Abdullah Tariki, the first Saudi oil minister appointed by King Saud and a co-founder of OPEC, graduated from Cairo University and later obtained his master’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas.

The first Saudi woman to obtain a government scholarship was Dr. Thoraya Obaid in 1963, who served as executive director of the United Nations Population Fund and undersecretary-general of the UN from 2000-2010. Success stories like these paved the way for other Saudi women to pursue higher education in the US, UK, Egypt and Lebanon and become prominent names in their fields, both within the Kingdom and abroad.

Many of the latest recipients of Saudi scholarships are third-generation beneficiaries, following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents.

With the launch of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in 2005, droves of Saudi students began to explore new avenues of education beyond just the West and Middle East. As of 2018, more than 90,000 Saudi students study abroad. Of these, 850 are at the world’s top 10 universities, and 1,600 are medical residents and fellows.

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‘Quality education’ key to boosting Saudi women’s workforce participation

Time: July 12, 2019  

The Saudi delegation hosted the symposium at the UN’s headquarters. (SPA)
  • ‘Increasing number of women in workforce is central objective of Vision 2030’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia, represented by its permanent mission to the UN, held a symposium on Wednesday to discuss the importance of quality education in increasing women’s participation in the labor force.

The delegation hosted the symposium at the UN’s headquarters in New York, during the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Saudi Arabia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Khalid Manzlawiy, stressed that one of the most important factors for the empowerment of women in various fields and sectors is sustainable quality education.

FASTFACT

According to the Pew Research Center, the Kingdom’s labor force comprised of 23 percent female in 2018, an increase of 7 percent from 1998 figures.

Princess Reem bint Mansour Al-Saud, a member of the Saudi Economic and Financial Committee of the delegation, participated in a panel discussion on the Kingdom’s efforts to increase women’s participation in the workforce — describing it as one of Saudi Vision 2030’s most important objectives — and explored attitudes toward women in the workplace, and the percentage of Saudi women currently employed in the Kingdom.

Yasmine Ali, a member of Singapore’s delegation, highlighted her country’s history of implementing education policies which have enhanced women’s long-term economic and social benefits, and how it has affected the empowerment of women in the labor market there, adding that Singapore is one of the world’s most advanced countries in when it comes to education.

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Dr. Hussam bin Abdulwahab Zaman, chairman of the Saudi Public Education Evaluation Commission

Time: June 16, 2019  

Dr. Hussam bin Abdulwahab Zaman

Dr. Hussam bin Abdulwahab Zaman was appointed chairman of the Saudi Public Education Evaluation Commission on June 13.

He said the commission strives to achieve the educational objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

Zaman said the commission will continue its independent work and in partnership with the Education Ministry and universities across the Kingdom and other government departments to achieve national goals.

He vowed to take effective measures for the development of the education sector in the Kingdom and to devise a training evaluation system under a unified institutional framework.

He was the director of Al-Taif University between 2016 and 2019. He also served as director-general of the Regional Center for Quality and Excellence in Education.

Zaman was campus president of the Saudi Electronic University between 2013 and 2014. He held several positions at Taibah University between 2008 and 2013, including deputy vice president for development and quality, and dean of the law faculty.

He received the Prince Bandar bin Sultan Award for Scientific Excellence, and the Rashid bin Hamid Award for Culture and Science.

Zaman holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies from Imam Muhammad bin Saudi University in Riyadh.

He received his master’s and Ph.D. in administration and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

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