Preparing Saudi students for life after school

Preparing Saudi students for life after school

Samar Fatany

By Samar Fatany

Preparing students for life after school and the general well-being of our children are major national concerns. One of the most significant initiatives of Saudi Vision 2030 is the Irtiqaa program that measures the effectiveness of Saudi parents’ engagement in their children’s education. The objective of the program is to engage 80 percent of Saudi parents in school activities by 2020. The idea is to encourage the participation of parents in the learning process of their children. The implementation of this program is very much needed to produce better educational standards among students and to engage parents in their children’s upbringing. This will marginalize the role of housemaids and allow parents to discipline their children and build character in our youth with proper guidance and support.

Nurturing and guiding the nation’s youth is also the responsibility of the school. Today many of the young are either disillusioned by extremists or disappointed by the failure of reformers. Hence, they remain confused and are easy targets for radicalization and violent extremism. Unfortunately, our schools in the past did not monitor militant literature and extremists were allowed to gain influence in almost every academic institution.

Providing extracurricular classes in art, sports and drama could enrich the creativity and innovative skills of children. The lack of such subjects deprives our children of the opportunity to develop well-rounded personalities and the chance to be creative at an early age. One of the most important obligations of any school is to enhance the leadership skills of its students and develop their knowledge to prepare them to be future leaders.

Promoting cultural activities can be an effective way to shun extremist ideology. More attention to our rich cultural heritage can project the true Muslim identity reflected in the compassion of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) and the chivalry of the Arabian knight.

One of the innovative approaches to protect the well-being of young people is to work toward promoting a happier generation of youth with a more positive outlook on life. Happiness can provide them with a boost to overcome their challenges and the determination to achieve their goals. Science has shown that people are more productive when they are happy and positive. When we feel positive our intelligence, creativity and energy levels rise. Happiness may be a crucial ingredient for success. Therefore, creating a happy environment in our schools can produce better students.

For Vision 2030 to succeed, promoting girl’s education is also critical. Today, girls’ schools in particular have a responsibility to create an environment where girls are encouraged to aspire to reach their potential and are well aware of their rights. Experts say that the best way to increase awareness of rights among women is to begin educating them at a very early age. Many women have little or no knowledge about their religious rights or about state laws. Many are complacent and even afraid to ask for their basic rights. Extremists and ill-informed scholars have twisted facts and encouraged many women in our society to remain subservient to their male guardians. Young girls with a proper Islamic education can be taught the true teachings of Shariah to refute discrimination against them, often done in the name of Islam. Educated women can set an example with their knowledge and expertise to inspire those who are less educated to assert their rights.

Respect for the rule of law is another major national concern that needs more attention from our schools. Addressing the prevalent callousness and recklessness and teaching respect for rules and regulations is essential for maintaining order. The common trend of disrespect for the law is responsible for our youth breaking traffic laws, abusing financial rights and bullying and abusing others, especially women. Introducing the concept of social responsibility at an early age can prepare students for greater community involvement.

Saudi environmentalists have consistently drawn attention to the dangerous situation that threatens our shores, the toxic chemicals and industrial waste that pollute our air, and the landfills and hospital waste that contaminate our soil. It is time our schools gave serious attention to such environmental issues that do not have adequate support and teach our children to protect the environment and our natural resources. The lack of cleanliness and hygiene has also contributed to the spread of diseases, viruses and dangerous epidemics.

Social scientists lament the erosion of our social values that has spread in recent years and urge schools to address the rise of disorderly attitudes among the youth. The absence of discipline in many schools leaves children more vulnerable to drug addiction and criminal behavior. Many crimes are committed because of disobedience and family feuds. The erosion of these values is harming our social fabric and produces unproductive and callous youth.

Upgrading the standards of our schools and preparing students for life after school continues to be a major concern for parents and government officials. Our children are the future leaders of our country and education is the key to progress and development.

It is time our schools live up to the expectations of the nation.

Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer. She can be reached at samarfatany@hotmail.com