JEDDAH – The Ministry of Education is working on a national project to classify English language centers based on the quality of services they provide among other factors, according to an official involved in the project.
Just like hotels, English language centers will be awarded stars based on the quality of services, said Basma Al-Sioufi, the supervisor of institutes and language centers in the Department of Education’s National and International Division for girls in Jeddah.
Eight essential points will be taken into consideration to evaluate the centers, which include the building, the faculty, administration, training system, corporate social responsibility programs, the satisfaction level of students and workers.
The new classification system will not result in the closure of any institute; it will only classify them based on their quality, said Al-Sioufi. “The closure of an institute or granting of a license is the responsibility of government agencies like municipality, police, governorate, Ministry of Labor and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” she said.
Based on their studies 75 percent of the centers examined have problems related to the quality of the building. “Many of these buildings have not been allocated for education or training purposes, and as such are not properly equipped,” she said.
There are two supervising centers that evaluate and monitor services provided in English language centers, which of late have come down from 35 to just 20 in Jeddah.
Many language centers, however, complain of problems in getting visas to hire native speakers. “We have Saudi teachers, but clients prefer native speakers. We have discussed this problem with the ministry but visas have to be arranged by different government bodies,” said a manager of a female section at a Jeddah language center.
Asked about their building and the quality of classrooms, she said: “Many centers like us rent office space.
Like any other startup business, we cannot have our own building. It is always easy for institutes attached to universities to have well-equipped buildings. But we cannot afford renting a building.”