(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia has opened its doors wide for foreign communities to establish their own schools to teach their nationals the curricula followed in their home countries in line with the Kingdom's policy of non-discrimination in the education sector and in compliance with decision No. 26 of the Council of Ministers.
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) revealed that the number of foreign schools operating in the Kingdom in the past academic year stood at 178 with more than 100,000 male and female students in 16 governorates.
The commission pointed out that Saudi Arabia deals fairly with foreign community schools permitting them to teach more than 20 different curricula of various countries, including the British, American, French, Philippine, Australian, Pakistani, Indian, Portuguese, Guinean, Malian, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Eritrean, Turkish, German, Indonesian, Ghanian, Italian, Greek and Sri Lankan systems.
Of the 100,000 students studying in these foreign schools, the number of foreign students was more than 592, 227 in all levels of education in 2012.
In a related issue, an educational study conducted by a group of researchers at the Umm Al-Qura University, involving 600 parents in four cities, revealed that they were more satisfied with the curricula of foreign schools because they use English as a medium of instruction from Grade 1.
The study, headed by Mohammad Amir Al-Khalidi of Umm Al-Qura University, said about 70 percent of parents of Saudi students preferred to enroll their children in foreign schools as compared to 18 percent who opposed it.
About 12 percent of the respondents said they were not familiar with the process of education in the foreign schools.
"The study essentially aims to discuss the impact of public education on the Saudi education system, and indicate the feasibility of teaching English from the first years of formal education," said Al-Khalidi, noting that the delay in teaching English until the last years of primary school tends to slow down the progress of the students' learning and hampers their cognitive knowledge.
The Ministry of Education has given parents the freedom of choice concerning their children's education. It said that foreign education is "acceptable" if it does not run contrary to the Kingdom's educational policy.