Saudi Arabia to build 3,200 new schools

Saudi Arabia to build 3,

The Saudi Ministry of Educations plans to build 3,200 new schools for some 1.7 million children. Under the King Abdullah Project for the Development of General Education, $5.3 billion will be spent raising the country's education system to international standards. "At the moment a vast majority of the schools are housed in unsuitable buildings," a Saudi businessman told The Media Line on the condition of anonymity. "They are not purpose-built schools." "They [Ministry of Education] have been renting buildings from private individuals and turning them into schools," he said. "It has been a longstanding problem and is something the government is anxious to rectify. This is the most comprehensive initiative yet, though the estimation is that they need some 4,000-5,000 new schools." In addition to the schools' construction, the Ministry of Education will be in charge of their management and maintenance. The school curriculum has also undergone a major overhaul over the last couple of years, as the Ministry of Education develops a curriculum to tackle deficiencies in computer technology, engineering and the sciences. Under the purview of the religious establishment, the curriculum has traditionally had a strong focus on religious studies. According to some estimates about 30% of the annual budget is spent on education. A recent United Nations study on education in the Arab World found that despite 20% of national budgets going towards education over the past 40 years, literacy levels remain very low. The report found 60 million Arabs to be illiterate, two-thirds of them women. The Saudi government currently sponsors some 60,000 scholarships for studies at colleges and universities abroad despite the number of universities in Saudi Arabia having grown from 9 to 25 over the last few years. Inaugurated two months ago, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is the latest addition. Built with an endowment of $10 billion, KAUST is one of the wealthiest universities in the world.