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The Education System In Saudi Arabi

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The education system in Saudi Arabia

Education in Saudi Arabia is segregated by sex and divided into three separately administered systems: general education for boys, education for girls and traditional Islamic education (for boys). The Ministry of Education, established in 1952, presides over general education for boys, and education for girls comes under the jurisdiction of the General Presidency for Girls' Education. Both sexes follow the same curriculum and take the same annual examinations.

Islamic education trains Saudi boys to become members of the Ulema (religious clergy). The religious secondary school curriculum includes the general academic secondary school curriculum but focuses primarily on Islamic and Arabic studies. Religious secondary schools are administered by Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University and the Islamic University of Medinah. These schools, along with religious institutions of higher education, parallel the secular system.


I. Primary School

Duration: Six years (ages 6 to 12)

Curriculum: Arabic, art education, geography, history, home economics (for girls), mathematics, physical education (for boys), Islamic studies and science

II. Intermediate School:

Duration: Three years (ages 12 to 15)

General Curriculum: Arabic, art education, English, geography, history, home economics (for girls), mathematics, physical education (for boys), religious studies and science


I. General Secondary School:

Duration: Three years (ages 15 to 18)

Compulsory Subjects: During the first year, students share a common curriculum, and in the final two years are divided into scientific and literary streams. Students scoring 60 percent in all first-year subjects may choose between the two streams. Those who score under 60 percent must opt for the literary stream.

General Curriculum: Arabic, biology, chemistry, English, geography, history, home economics (for girls), mathematics, physical education (for boys) and religious studies

II. Religious Secondary School :

Duration: Three years (ages 15 to 18)

Curriculum: Arabic language and literature, English, general culture, geography, history and religious studies

III. Technical Secondary School :

There are three types of technical education offered at the secondary level: vocational/technical, commercial and agricultural. Admission to a technical school requires the Shahadat Al-Kafa'at Al-Mutawassita (Intermediate School Certificate).

All technical and vocational training comes under the authority of the General Organization for Technical Education.

Duration: Three years (ages 15 to 18)


Vocational/Technical: architectural drawing, auto mechanics, electricity, machine mechanics, metal mechanics, radio and television. In addition to technical subjects, students take Arabic, chemistry, English, mathematics, physical education, physics and religious studies

Commercial: Arabic, bookkeeping and accounting, commercial correspondence, economics, English, financial mathematics, general mathematics, geography, management and secretarial and religious studies.

Agriculture (partial listing): agricultural economics, agronomy, animal husbandry, applied biology, applied chemistry, applied mathematics, applied physics, Arabic, English, farm management, horticulture, religious studies, marketing and plant nutrition


Higher education is provided by seven universities, several colleges for women, an institute of public administration and 17 teacher-training colleges. Six of the seven universities operate under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education. The seventh, the Islamic University of Medinah, is administered by the Council of Ministers.

As previously noted, universities in Saudi Arabia offer two types of education: traditional Islamic and Western-oriented. The Islamic University of Medinah and Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University focus on Islamic law, Quranic studies, Arabic language and social sciences.


Programs and Degrees

Stage I: The baccaloreus degree generally takes four years, except in pharmacy and medicine, which require four years plus clinical training, and engineering and veterinary medicine, both of which require five years. Medicine studies last eight years, and the qualification conferred is the doctor of medicine.

Stage II: In most universities, the darajat al majisteer (master's degree) is awarded after two years of additional study beyond the first degree. However, King Saud University offers a one-year postgraduate program at this level leading to the general diploma in education. The master's degree is awarded in economics, business and public administration, accountancy, engineering, arts and humanities, marine sciences, science, earth sciences, meteorology, environment and arid-land agricultural science.



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