Saudi Arabia plans to build 4,000 new schools

Ministry of Education says it will spend $8.5bn on overhauling the kingdom's education system
Saudi Arabia plans to build 4,000 new schools
Saudi school children
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Sun 11 Sep 2011 06:27 PM

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education will spend SR32bn ($8.5bn) on constructing 4,000 new schools in the kingdom as part of its plan to overhaul the Gulf state’s education system, it was reported on Sunday.

A total of 600 new schools have been built and 1,200 have been renovated so far this year, a Ministry of Education spokesperson told Saudi daily Arab News.

“We have already completed 600 new school buildings this year at a cost of SR9bn,” said Muhammad Al Dakhini, spokesman of the ministry.

The kingdom has allocated a budget for appointing 7,700 new teachers this fiscal year, he added. “We are now in the process of appointing 8,000 women teachers in various schools, in coordination with the Ministry of Civil Affairs,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, concerned that the wave of protests across the Arab world may spread to the Gulf state, has announced two social spending packages amid protests calling for more job opportunities and democracy.

The package, which was announced in March, included plans to spend $67bn on housing, and followed a $36bn handout announced on February 23.

Six years ago King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz launched an overhaul of state schools and universities in the kingdom. The efforts are part of a draft of reforms aimed at diversifying the economy away from oil and easing the influence of religious clerics in schools.

Authorities in the kingdom have allocated SR150bn for education and plan to create 52,000 new jobs for Saudis, said Arab News.

The Saudi Gazette newspaper on Sunday said 33,000 schools would be offering preparatory programmes for five million aimed at preparing students for their studies.

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