Education is priceless


Some 1.3 million Saudis discontinued their education in 2017 for various reasons, even though there should never be a reason good enough not to finish one’s education.

According to the General Authority of Statistics (GaStat), the reasons for dropping out are multiple: A total of 20,771 after failing academically; 415,264 to pursue a career; 203,463 to support their families; 203,951 were not accepted in an educational institute; 94,729 people wanted to postpone their education; 53,780 due to illnesses and disabilities; and 28,223 had difficulty finding transportation, while 121,629 had other reasons to stop their education.

The reasons for discontinuing education differ between men and women. Some 27.7 percent of men wanted to postpone their education to another time, 19.6 percent couldn’t continue education due to illnesses and disabilities, 17.4 percent failed to get admission in an educational institute, and 2.3 percent could not find transportation to attend classes.

A total of 187,445 Saudi women discontinued their education due to marriage or pregnancy. Over 11 percent of women could not continue their education as they had to support their families, 19.4 percent suffered illnesses or disabilities, while 2.4 percent of women wanted or had to pursue a career.

Students who drop out of school or college always claim they have a very good reason for doing so. In some cases, the reasons might at the time be truly insurmountable. But problems are sooner or later solved. Few people have life difficulties that are forever insolvable or intractable.

Meanwhile, the government must try to modernize its education system by moving teaching away from the traditional methods of memorization and rote learning toward encouraging students to analyze and problem-solve as well as create a more vocationally based education system. The Kingdom has the resources to hire the best teachers, buy the best books, and build the best schools and universities with the best-equipped classrooms.

However, many Saudi youth lack the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Last year, around half of the Kingdom’s university graduates could not find jobs because they specialized in subjects that do not have any relevance in the job market. As a consequence, unemployment in the Kingdom is 15 percent more than the first quarter report of 12.7 percent.

Unlike other countries, the right to an education is not a problem in the Kingdom. Public education, from primary school through college, is open to every Saudi citizen. The problem is how well Saudis are availing themselves of the opportunity to receive an education.

Vision 2030 is not just about lessening the Kingdom’s dependence on oil. Vision 2030 states that the Kingdom needs to do more to bridge the gap between education and the requirements of the labor market. Graduates of the country’s educational system are being taught subjects that do not reflect the reality they live in.

For an improved educational system in the Kingdom, instead of depending on pat requisites, schools and colleges could introduce more subjects to open a student’s horizons. They could affiliate themselves to institutions of learning abroad to gain more experience. And they could seek accreditation from recognized institutes that apply rigorous standards.

Education adds value to an individual, has the potential to positively influence students’ personal development, and establishes a career or occupation. It shapes youngsters into becoming productive members of society. A big chunk of a person’s life is void if he or she does not get an education. And that emptiness will remain there forever.

Education is the acquisition of knowledge and skills. These have no price tags. Education is priceless.