Saudis registering at international schools on rise

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Time: May 14, 2018

JEDDAH — Although media reports have documented that many expatriates are leaving the Kingdom, yet a specialist believes the number of students registered at international schools are not expected to drop.

“We do not expect the number of students to decrease significantly, as there are growing numbers of Saudis students enrolling in international schools,” said Waseem Al Hanbali, regional director of Middle East and North Africa, Cambridge Assessment International Education. He added “Saudi Arabia is still a growing and developing country with many projects and initiatives that will create jobs for Saudis and expatriates alike.”

In an interview with Saudi Gazette, Al Hanbali said, “Many of our schools have reported a growing number of registrations from Saudis. Some large schools reported having only 5-10% Saudi students 10 years ago now we have well over 50%. Some of the schools we work with have over 90% of Saudi students.”

The international schools market has seen an expansion in Saudi Arabia as a direct response to the increased demands for high-quality education in the region. “As a result, we are registering more new schools in Saudi Arabia — an average of 8 to 10 per year,” explained Al Hanbali. He added that this trend is also clearly seen in many other countries around the world including China and USA.

In Saudi Arabia, nearly 15,000 candidates entered Cambridge examinations in 2017/18. This number, however, does not include all the candidates enrolled on Cambridge programs in schools and who have yet to enter the exam.

Asked about their cooperation with the Ministry of Education to provide quality learning at public schools, he said they have ongoing communication channels with the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia. In 2017 Cambridge associate Emkan Education signed an agreement to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to teach Saudi teachers in public schools on the Cambridge Certificate in Teaching with Digital Technologies. Over 150 Saudi teachers were trained in the first phase of the pilot, “we are hoping that this certificate will be made more widely available to Saudi teachers across the country in the coming year,” said Al Hanbali.

According to him, the Cambridge Pathway gives students a clear path to educational success from age 5 to 19. Schools can shape the curriculum around how they want students to learn — with a wide range of subjects and flexible ways to offer them. “We offer a wide range of subjects. And we let every student choose the subjects they love and the subjects they’re best at.”

He added that they believe in active learning which fosters understanding so that students are able to apply the knowledge they gain to new situations. This helps prepare them for future challenges at university and in life.

Al Hanbali noted that they hold over 1,000 training events worldwide every year, to support teachers in the delivery of Cambridge programs. “We recently held a forum for primary school students with workshops and group activities to really engage them in their learning,” he concluded.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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