The Ministry of Education ordered the closure of 17 international schools and issued warnings to 32 others last year for violating local laws including not integrating the Arabic language and Islamic studies into their curricula and other irregularities.
According to a report, the executive committee on the supervisory board on foreign schools presented to Education Minister Prince Khaled Al-Faisal its future plan during which they discussed foreign schools and mechanisms to better organize their functioning.
The committee has confirmed that foreign schools owned by Saudi investors are required to teach subjects on religion, Arabic language, social studies, and the history and geography of the Kingdom under the supervision of Saudi educators who will be tasked with monitoring and evaluating the teaching materials.
The committee has also issued certain guidelines for the admission of Saudi and non-Saudi children to these schools and also a separate section for Saudi boys.
This law will also impose sanctions on schools that do not adhere to the teaching of Arabic, Islamic civilization as well as the history and geography of the Kingdom. The regulation also emphasizes the need to employ Saudis as teachers of these subjects and to hold an annual competition in Arabic language.
“Unfortunately, expatriates do not take the Arabic language seriously even at the educational level. They run their schools but look upon Arabic only as a means of communication for local use or for the followers of Islam,” said a translator from Sudan.
Various government agencies and Arabic language advocates have taken steps to promote Arabic among expatriates living in Saudi Arabia due to its importance as the country’s national language and being the lingua franca.
The Ministry of Higher Education has instituted recently an international award for Services to Arabic Language with cash awards worth a total of SR1.5 million.
The government has also created the King Abdullah International Center for Arabic Language (KAICAL) and invited foreign experts to research in Arabic that would examine the status of the language in non-Arabic-speaking countries with financial support as an incentive for the researchers.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued last year a strict advisory to all commercial entities in the country to use Arabic in their contracts, tags, receipts and invoices. According to a report, the ministry will fine violators SR100,000.
The Shoura Council also declared this year that Arabic be used as the lingua franca in international conferences and official forums inside the Kingdom.
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