Al-Asheikh: Efforts afoot to make education better


Okaz/Saudi Gazette

Large scale reforms in the education system are in the offing, Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Asheikh has said. These reforms will guarantee better output, the minister assured.

Participating in a largely attended group discussion entitled “Dialogue of Responsibility” organized by Okaz newspaper at its headquarters here recently, Dr. Al-Asheikh said that his ministry’s organizational system is not based on an institutional work. “Schools were constructed according to demands from citizens and not on the basis of well-studied strategic plans,” he said.

He described earlier initiatives to reform education as not up to the mark and pledged to reform the education system guaranteeing better graduates.

The minister stressed that education will remain an official institution under the care of the state with no intervention whatsoever from any quarter. He asserted the ministry’s determination to empower more women in leading posts in the ministry.

Education Ministry is the only ministry that has four women as undersecretaries.

He stressed that the Ministry of Education will not allow any negative impact on education after the state’s success in dealing with deviant thoughts, including the philosophy espoused by Muslim Brotherhood. He asserted that the ministry has been able to destroy all publications based on deviant thoughts in the university and school libraries.

The minister diagnosed the status of private education by saying “there are people working in the education ministry and they are partners in the private education institutions. This is a malfunction and a clash of interests.”

He pointed out that there is a defect in the secondary school education system and pledged to tackle it firmly. He stressed the importance of the existence of an authority for rectifying education.

Al-Asheikh said that the team for improving the curricula faced stiff resistance, in the form of dialectic and intellectual conflicts. “So we started revising some of the curricula and completing the work started by our predecessors. When I took over the ministry, there were people who wanted to stop all the reviewing and revising of the ministry’s systems. The curricula agency was nullified totally and it was not replaced. When we wanted to develop or change some of the curricula, I was surprised not to find a single employee at the Center for Developing the Curricula.”

Dr. Al-Asheikh said that the subjects of national identity for girls have not been changed for 20 years at the secondary school stage. The curricula for social education and religious education have not inculcated the concepts of patriotism, affiliation and loyalty in the way that would achieve the desired goals.

He added: “We are determined to increase the patriotism content in our curricula. The curricula will focus on the values of tolerance and coexistence and revealing the historical facts, especially those related to Saudi history and its symbols, and shedding light on the Saudi personality.”

The minister said the education jobs bylaw has caused a great uproar, despite it being in the interest of the teacher.

He added: “We raised the ceiling of teachers’ salaries, as there was a teaching allowance of nearly 33 percent. We insisted that it should not remain as an allowance, but it should be incorporated into the basic salary.”