Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH – Providing high quality education that can effectively meet the needs of the labor market is central to fulfilling the Saudi Vision 2030, Minister of Education Dr. Ahmed Al-Issa told key education stakeholders here on Tuesday.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the International Baccalaureate Forum, organized by King Faisal Foundation (KFF) in collaboration with the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), Dr. Al-Issa said it was important for the sector to focus on how to better encourage innovation and creativity in the classroom at all levels. Programs such as the International Baccalaureate, introduced in the Kingdom following close cooperation between KFF and IBO, would play an important part in achieving such objectives, he added.
“We at the Ministry of Education also look forward to working in this direction, reduce the existing cramming methods employed in Saudi education and facilitate a critical thinking approach among our students. Hundreds of teachers will be enrolled in training programs to deliver the International Baccalaureate program,” he said.
The forum opened with a speech by Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Khalid, secretary general of the KFF, who outlined the foundation’s efforts to develop the Saudi education system through scholarship programs and the establishment of education institutions at various levels.
Discussing KFF’s work to implement IB programs in the Kingdom, Prince Bandar said: “This program has been implemented in a number of schools and the results have been very promising. I would like to extend thanks to the minister of education for his support and to all stakeholders who work hard to develop the education sector. We look forward to implementing the International Baccalaureate program across all levels of education in line with the vision of the government led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.”
The forum also watched a pre-recorded video speech delivered by IBO Director General Siva Kumari before Chief Assessment Officer Paula Wilcock discussed the development of the IB program in the Kingdom.
“The world is becoming ever more global, and while some forces seek to pull it apart, it is valuable to spend time here today and reflect on the many things which unite us, bind us, and make us stronger in the years ahead. I believe that the International Baccalaureate and the King Faisal Foundation have a wonderful opportunity to work together, in the spirit of the values which unite us, and those written into Vision 2030, to meet our objectives in the educational field and beyond. We can work together to develop students who will have an impact across the world and help to make the world a better place,” she said.
Two International Baccalaureate graduates also presented their own personal experiences as IB students. One of them, Abdullah Al Falah of King Faisal School in Riyadh, said students really felt “the depth of the education process”.
“This program is able to develop inquisitive students who can then become thinkers, leaders and intellectuals, and all in line with Islamic values, heritage and culture. I consider myself one of the luckiest students because I chose this program,” he said.
Walid Arrodini, KFF’s Head of Programs, told the forum that 14 schools in Jeddah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province have been receiving training on how to effectively deliver the IB program at primary level under the foundation’s patronage. This year, another 18 schools will be selected to receive similar support at middle school level. Results already indicate a positive contribution to the teaching and learning environment in schools and the development of a culture of young leadership in the country, he said.
“The IB project is a philanthropic one and our mission is to create a paradigm shift in the field of education,” he said.
Several workshops and forums will be organized to introduce the IBO’s work in the Kingdom as well as outline the International Baccalaureate programs at primary and middle school levels, International Diploma Program and the Career-related Program. Other workshops on “The Changing Educational Landscape in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, the forum’s central theme, will also be organized for school leadership and private sector investors.