Modern education system was introduced to Saudi Arabia in the late 19th century. Islamic higher education mainly existed in the main cities during that era. The commencement of modern education helped to diversify in many different fields of expertise. The Ottomans were the first to introduce modern and advanced education system in the Hejaz region. Doors to new opportunities were opened in the Ottoman provinces of Hejaz and Al Ahsa in the new era. During 1920s, some private schools began offering modern education subjects and courses. This initiative was started in larger towns of Saudi Arabia. Later on, in the 1930s the modern education was officially promoted by the state department.
As time advanced, many schools were setup in the year 1951. The ministry of education came into existence in the mid of year 1954. It was formed to manage and promote better education policies. It helped the education sector to blossom in the coming years. In 1964, the government initiated public level education for girls. Though, it was confronted by conservative groups yet the government continued its project. Secured and essential education systems were initiated with the development programs announced by the government in the late 70s.
By the end of 90s, the literacy rate for men was about 15% in Saudi Arabia. Women had only 2% literacy rate. Later in the year 2002, this ratio changed enormously with men’s literacy rate reaching at 73% and women 48% respectively. Subsequently, the percentage kept on growing and in the mid of 2002 the figure reached up to 91% and 72%. The Saudi government has done a great job in improving the education system despite many hindrances standing in the way. The standard of education that is being provided to the budding students matches international standards. The results are exceptionally good and clearly visible in the present era.
The Saudi education system gives huge benefits to the students. Though it is not mandatory to get education but the students are given free study course material and health services once they opt to study. The education services are also free. The education level in different regions is totally dependent on the number of schools present in that particular region. The government is working hard towards enhancing the education system and at the same time working rigorously towards increasing the rate of admissions.
As per the old data, following students have enrolled from 1960 to 1989.
- 22% Boys and 2% Girls were enrolled in the year 1960
- 81% Boys and 43% Girls were enrolled in the year 1981
- 4 million Boys and 1.2 million Girls were enrolled in the year 1989
Nowadays, female students have exceeded the number of male students in terms of enrollment in schools as well the universities. Saudi Arabia now has 73 colleges and 16,600 schools that are only for Girls.
As per the latest data, there are about 1.64 million female and 1.19 million male students enrolled in Saudi Arabia. About 1.5 million boys and girls are studying in the private schools.