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KSA, UAE lead ME with most foreign schools

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has 245 international schools ahead of several Arab countries in terms of the number of foreign schools operating on their soil, says a new survey conducted by the UK-based International Schools Consultancy (ISC).

Only one member state in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE, has more international schools than the Kingdom today.
“The UAE has 511 international schools, ahead of even China, Pakistan and India,” said the ISC survey. But Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries which has the most foreign schools in operation in the Middle East. International schools are still on a growth trajectory in the MENA and South Asia regions, said the report released on Saturday.
“The reasons behind the mushrooming growth of foreign schools in Saudi Arabia are different, mainly they cater to the needs of about 10 million expatriate residents,” said Mohammed Al-Uraija, an Arab educational consultant, while commenting on the report. “Private international schools generally provide a higher standard of education than state schools,” he noted.
He said that the most common option for western or Asian expatriates living in Saudi Arabia is to send their children to an international school. Many of these schools are run by the foreign embassies that have a large number of expatriates in the country, while others are privately owned and follow independent curricula.
Also, international schools in the Kingdom are steadily gaining popularity among Saudi students due to parents’ perceptions that these schools are better than the Saudi schools.
By country, three nations from the region figured prominently in the world’s top 15, with Saudi Arabia (245), Egypt (183) and Qatar (152) in 5th, 9th and 14th position respectively, according to the ISC survey. It further said that the education landscape in the Middle East and South Asia is changing very rapidly, reporting an upswing in terms of opening new international schools and institutions.
But, a report recently published in a section of Saudi press contradicts the findings of the ISC, saying that there are currently 321 foreign schools in the Kingdom with more than 180,000 students on their rolls.
The International School Consultancy (ISC), which has its headquarters in Oxfordshire, UK; is the leading source of market intelligence on the world of international English-speaking schools.
ISC has also been organizing, supporting and participating in a host of regional and international school-related events and seminars. It will be hosting a “Going Global Seminar” in London on Sept. 22 this year. The event, tailor-made for education suppliers and providers, will give them valuable information and advice about developing business with the world’s best international schools.

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