Private Battles Public in Saudi School System
SAUDI ARABIA (Albawaba) – Public schools in Saudi Arabia are losing students to better-equipped private schools, despite the high cost of a private school education.
Over the years, conditions at public schools have deteriorated badly. Buildings are rundown and overcrowded, schools lack facilitates for creative stimulation and physical activity.
Official education statistics show that more than 155,000 male students attended 696 private schools throughout Saudi Arabia. The number of female students in private schools was recorded at 128,000, distributed between 1,000 schools.
Although more students attend public school - 4.5 million - the miserable conditions of public schools has many Saudis convinced the best place for their children is in a private school, cost or no cost. An annual fee at a private school could reach $15,000 per child.
Private school principals say students get their money's worth.
Private school teachers hold higher degrees. The schools offer computer classes, and teach English at an early stage, unlike public schools. Buildings are new and equipped with modern technology. For extra curricular activity they offer horseback riding and swimming. There are health clinics and labs and transport to and from school.
Like public schools, private schools in Saudi Arabia receive financial aid from the government. For every student, the government pays private schools $125 to $170 per year. The government spends 10 percent of the Gross National product on education, double the amount recommended by the World Bank.
However, the general belief among parents, and even in the government, is that private schools will produce a generation of better educated and more skilled students who will be the economic leaders of the future.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)