Education remains a top priority for Kingdom

December 24, 2017

Irfan Mohammed

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The shortage of funds in education sector is a common complaint across the globe. Budget cut in this vital field has become the norm in most countries, including in the United States. However, the Kingdom set a markedly different record from the rest world, as the country is rigorously pursuing various higher education programs in line with the objectives of Vision 2030. The pragmatic approach of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, a strong advocated of a knowledge-based society, gave a further boost to education in the country.

The allocation of SR192 billion to the education sector in the 2018 annual budget, amid several austerity measures, reflects Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman's determination to upgrade education opportunities in the Kingdom.

The hefty and generous allocation for the education sector indicates the government's priorities for nation building. In a country where over 50 percent of the population is below 25 years, education is a vital and strategic area especially achieving the goals of Vision 2030 and its transformation process.

The Kingdom is truly committed toward building the nation and caring for its citizens, and education has been a top priority since its establishment. By investing in human capital, the Kingdom ensures sustainable growth and a knowledge-based economy.

It has focused on allocation of funds for Tatweer, a government owned firm to implement projects designed to fulfill the requirements of the ambitious National Transformation Program, which forms part of the Vision 2030. SR9 billion has been allocated for Tatweer programs aimed at overhauling the education system. Under the project, 2,621 schools will be covered.

The government gave special attention to women's colleges in pace with efforts for women empowerment by earmarking SR1.4 billion, 31 percentage of total allocation in the 2016-18 plan. The total allocation is for the 2016-2020 period is SR5 billion, according to a report by the Ministry of Education.

Apart from developing high standards in education, the Kingdom is encouraging its nationals to pursue studies abroad by providing scholarships.

The government set aside SR14.7 billion for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Foreign Scholarship program to support Saudis wishing to join prestigious universities of the world for higher education.

The budget statement said the foreign scholarship program will continue to support students and their accompanying family members, whose total number reached 173,000.

The allocation for education increased dramatically in the last four years. It grew from SR105 billion in 2008 to SR192 billion in 2018.

According to a study by Saleh Abdul Kareem of King Saud University, the budget for education in 1970, when the literacy rate among men was just 15 percent, was SR666 million.

The literacy rate among people below the age of 25 rose to 98 percent, which is higher than the global rate of 87.9 percent.

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