(MENAFN - Arab News) Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, the minister of education, reaffirmed yesterday Saudi Arabia's strategic plan to create a learning environment that fits with the requirements of 21st century learning.
He also urged for the promotion of the health of students and building of their character, discipline and care.
The prince stressed the importance to improve the performance of students in their Arabic language as their mother tongue and apply them in life. He urged students to improve their performance in science and technology.
The minister noted the importance of students' skills in the English language that would raise the level of their preparedness and post-secondary study for life and the labor market.
In his presentation yesterday, the minister elaborated on the future vision until the year 2023, and said Saudi student shall achieve the highest potential with a personal participation in his community-integrated development programs while upholding his religion and his loyalty to this country through a high-quality educational system.
Prince Faisal officially opened the Third International Exhibition and Forum for Education (IEFE-2013) here on Monday night, which was attended by diplomats and high-ranking officials drawn from 22 countries.
The prince said the overall objective is to enable schools, various departments of education and management to improve curricula and teaching methods and assessment processes that would reflect positively on student learning, in addition to providing equal learning opportunities and support systems for all students, and to provide education to kindergarten for all.
"We also work to strengthen areas of cooperation with families and communities to support the culture of learning, develop a system for apprenticeship and job education, increase the effectiveness of technology in higher levels while improving their performance," he said.
It is also necessary he said to improve governance and leadership skills, incentives and educational policy to sustain the development schools model.
The minister outlined the strategic outcomes that tend to improve the performance of students in Islamic education materials and acquire the values, principles and positive behaviors as per the Islamic teaching.
"Increase the enrollment of children in kindergartens and institutions that would improve their performance and promote the values of citizenship and belonging to the homeland and its culture among students," he appealed.
Prince Faisal emphasized to increasing access to education for students with special needs and gifted and at-risk students.
The plan should also work to reduce the dropout and repetition rates in all stages and increase the percentage of students completing secondary grades.
Prince Faisal revealed during his inaugural lecture major initiatives and projects, including the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz for the Development of Public Education (KADPE).
Second initiative he mentioned was consolidation and decentralization that works for standardization of procedures between sectors.
He highlighted what has been achieved under this strategy through the years of efforts to develop policies, plans and general supervision.
This he said has strengthened decentralization of the regions, provinces and schools through the expansion of the powers of the directors of education, as also that of the school principals. It was granted, he said, operating budgets for schools and encouraged competition between education departments and schools. "Start measuring performance through a system of performance and excellence," he advised.
Another initiative, according to the minister, was the assessments of public education through Public Education Assessment Authority. The commission the minister elaborated aims to stand on the performance of educational institutions and improve overall performance. It will exercise a number of tasks notably the establishment of a system that will evaluate and monitor implementation of quality standards in public education. The prince said it will work to build curriculum standards and determine what student should know at each stage; the standards of the teaching profession, and licensing of teachers' organizations.
Besides he said there is an initiative that promote private sector participation in public education, in that context a company for education development or "Tatweer" has been set up and owned by the state.
The fifth initiative he said designed for teachers and the like, including on-the-job teachers and the sixth initiative involved curriculum initiative where the application of the new curriculum for math and science at all levels and schools.
Prince Faisal said that English was introduced by modern methods - starting from the grade four (16,377 elementary, middle and high schools), but will cover all grades and schools soon.
The seventh initiative he said is the expansion drive in kindergarten where a decision of the Council of Ministers was taken four years ago that expedited to make kindergarten as integral part of the education track.
The initiative is implemented for the expansion of kindergarten to accommodate 50 percent of children and now nearly 300 kindergartens have been opened last year and more than 700 this year making a total of approximately 1,000 kindergarten.
Outlining the education plan, the prince said, the eighth initiative is school buildings where 3,200 projects have been received during the past four years, at a rate of 3.3 day schools, benefiting more than 1.5 million students.