Saudi To Develop Education System


"A team of academics is currently working on this ambitious project. We have completed studies on seven major aspects of higher education with the support of research groups from different Saudi universities," said Muhammad Al Ouhali, director of the project.


He said that it is also planned to conduct two workshops to hammer out a national vision on higher education.


The first one will be held in the middle of this month in Riyadh with the participation of 400 invited academics, students and businessmen in addition to international experts and analysts. "The second workshop will be held at Oxford University in Britain in May with the participation of many Saudi and foreign academics," he said.


He added that the title of the Oxford workshop will be ‘future trends in university education and its role in social development.’


Asked whether the present education system was ready to accept changes, Al Ouhali said: "A lot of positive changes have taken place in higher education in recent years with the moral and material support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia. This means the stage has been set for change."


The Ministry of Higher Education spearheaded the project to fulfil the challenges of a sustainable, first-class academic development process.


"Among these challenges are academic excellence, high population growth rate, global influence on education principles, ever-increasing funding demands, and labour market needs for highly qualified graduates," Al Ouhali said.


The ministry has designated the Research Institute at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) to present a detailed study for the preparation of a futuristic and effective higher education plan, which will include an analytical review of the current conditions and operations.


KFUPM formed a highly competent team of experts who in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education established the guidelines that will govern the coordination and management of the project named ‘Aafaq’. "An important segment of the plan deals with specialised issues such as faculty, students and information technology," Al-Ouhali said.


The Aafaq project aims at improving adequate utilisation of human and financial resources; and encouraging universities to allocate more resources for research and development (R&D) and community service.


The project is geared to produce a detailed implementation plan for higher education for the first five years and propose a mechanism for institutions of higher education for continued strategic planning and implementation of strategic and operational plans.


The management of the project intends to hold workshops, seminars and training sessions in major cities of the Kingdom to put forward relevant topics of the plan for open discussion by different groups of the society.

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