Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation

Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation
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Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation
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Saudi students reap the benefits of institutions specializing in technical and administrative studies, below left.
Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation
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Saudi students reap the benefits of institutions specializing in technical and administrative studies, below left.
Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation
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Updated 23 September 2019

Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation

Saudi schools in the 1970s: Science, math and moderation
  • Many Saudis recall the 1970s as ‘the good old days,’ a time when education for both girls and boys was expanding
  • The curriculum encouraged tolerance and moderation, especially on Islamic topics, a retired principal recalls

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia may have embarked on an ambitious program of social and religious modernization, but in many ways the reforms hark back to the 1960s and 1970s — an era when people were culturally conservative, but also tolerant of different religions and cultures. Despite the traditional nature of Saudi society at that time, the country was progressing and evolving smoothly in line with much of the world.
However, a series of events in the 1970s brought progress in the Kingdom to a halt, with major social changes threatening tolerance and a moderate religious stance, and even overturning core teachings in schools and higher learning institutions.
The Iranian revolution in February 1979 and subsequent establishment of a hard-line Islamic government in Tehran, as well as militant Juhayman Al-Otaibi’s failed uprising against the Saudi government in November that year, were key factors in the change.
Rising conservative sentiment in the region and fears of further unrest in the Kingdom had a dramatic effect on Saudi society, especially on women and education, as Amani Hamdan, an associate professor at Al-Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, in Dammam, outlined in a 2005 study, “Women and Education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and Achievements.”
Saudi Arabia was “a complex society eager to discover and enjoy the fruits of advancement, but at the same time determined to preserve its religious and cultural traditions,” she wrote.
“The balance between the two has been difficult to maintain, especially with regards to women’s professional space.”
Education for girls was introduced six decades after it began for boys. In the 1960s, King Faisal and his wife Princess Effat encouraged female education and women’s right to achieve their goals. Yet King Faisal struggled initially to convince conservative elements in society which opposed women’s education.
Fayga Redwan, a retired school principal, recalls teaching in the 1960s and 1970s, and said that the school curriculum encouraged tolerance and moderation, especially on Islamic topics.
“General subjects such as math, science and social studies were taught by foreign teachers from Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Egypt along with Islamic subjects such as Qur’an, fiqh (jurisprudence) and hadith (collections of the Prophet’s sayings),” she told Arab News.
“They were lenient in the sense that lessons were intended to offer a better understanding of our religion and the way it could enhance our lives. Teachers were never overbearing and didn’t veer off-track to apply their beliefs (if they were ultra-conservative).”
“We weren’t forced to memorize hundreds of the Prophet’s sayings. Instead, we were expected to comprehend the messages. Comprehension was a key factor in all our subjects, but that changed in later years when curriculums were reformed,” she said.
However, the growing influence of ultra-conservative clerics on daily life was quickly felt in schools, where religion became the main focus, dominating the education system at the expense of other subjects. Science, math and language teachers became religious preachers in their own classrooms.
The school system was divided along gender lines with the General Presidency for Girls’ Education heavily influenced by conservative religious scholars, and the Ministry of Education for boys focusing on science subjects.
This was to ensure that women’s education did not deviate from its original purpose “of making women good wives and mothers, and preparing them for ‘acceptable’ jobs such as teaching and nursing,” Hamdan wrote.
Meanwhile, teachers began intimidating young female students, using fear to warn them of the consequences of failing to perform religious rituals.
“Girls’ schools were surrounded by high walls and security screens. Each school, college or university was assigned at least two men, usually in their 50s or 60s, who were responsible for checking the identity of those who entered the school, and generally watched over the girls inside the school until they were picked up by their fathers or brothers,” she said.
Former student Reema Alwshaiqer said that she had been a victim of this fear. “My religion teacher used to tell stories about hell and torture, telling us that if we didn’t cover our hands with gloves and our feet with socks when we went out, we would burn in hell from our toes to our heads,” she said.
By contrast, in the 1970s, many private boys’ schools had language classes, physical education, swimming, football, tennis, music and theater, while private girls’ schools also offered physical education, and French and English language classes.
Families in the 1960s and 1970s understood the importance of education and sent their daughters to school despite criticism from religious clerics.
Manal Al-Harbi, a former high school teacher, said: “The school system was different from one city to another. I experienced first grade in Riyadh, where wearing a hijab was mandatory for older students. I was so afraid of the 50-year-old guard who told older students to cover their hair that I started to wear a hijab even inside the school.”
Al-Harbi later attended elementary school in Madinah and loved her school uniform. “Students used to wear a light gray two-piece uniform, pants and a long top with a belt. It was so comfortable. However, intermediate and secondary students used to wear long dresses with sleeves.” “Most of the teachers were Saudi, but we also had foreign teachers, mainly from Egypt, Syria and Iraq,” she added. During the 1970s there were no women’s universities in Madinah. “Most girls used to enrol in King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and stay in the female dorms. The university used to entertain the girls who lived on campus by taking them to the beach with their female friends, professors and supervisors.”
Saudi graduates could also enrol in local universities or apply for government scholarships abroad, mainly to the US, which had more than 11,000 Saudi scholarship students at one time.
Many Saudis today look back on the 1970s as “the good old days.” Boys had more options when choosing college majors, and more job opportunities in both the private and public sectors.
Saud Al-Shalhoub, former general assistant auditor at the Saudi Electricity Company, told Arab News that teaching standards at Saudi universities at that time were advanced.
“I graduated from King Saud University, which was called Riyadh University, with a double major in accounting and business management. When I decided to pursue my master’s degree, a lot of universities that I applied for abroad waived many courses, and I completed my master’s within a year.” After graduating, Al-Shalhoub found many job opportunities in Saudi Arabia. “That would be difficult nowadays,” he said.


Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas
Updated 05 August 2021

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas

RIYADH: The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) approved 106 professional and technical diplomas in various specializations and fields. 

The certifications are linked to the requirements of the labor market with the aim of raising the efficiency of the national workforce.

The professional certification program supports Hadaf’s other initiatives in improving professional training, increasing competitiveness among the workforce in specialized fields and stimulating professional development.

The Hadaf program offers an interconnected set of specialized courses designed to provide and enhance basic professional skills in areas of specialization, reflecting positively on career performance.

It targets all citizens wishing to develop their professional career by obtaining a certificate, whether the applicant is a government or private sector employee, job seeker or student.

With its focus on professional training and certification, the fund aims to boost labor market productivity to reach international standards and create new career opportunities.

To benefit from the program, applicants must have an accredited professional certificate and acknowledgment from their employer stating that they are not covering the fees of obtaining it.

Each applicant can process a maximum of two certificates. For payment, the applicant must file a claim through the taqat.sa website along with a copy of the professional certificate.

After verifying the validity of the certificate, the related costs are transferred directly to the applicant’s account through the IBAN number given on the registration page.


Sea ambulance service launched in KSA’s Farasan Island

Sea ambulance service launched in KSA’s Farasan Island
Updated 05 August 2021

Sea ambulance service launched in KSA’s Farasan Island

Sea ambulance service launched in KSA’s Farasan Island
  • Sea ambulance cost $3.6m and is equipped with the latest safety systems, five beds, a CPR device, and a shock-absorbent stretcher
  • Will be able to transfer emergency cases from Farasan Island to Jazan Port within 45 minutes

JAZAN: Jazan Gov. Prince Mohammed bin Nasser bin Abdul Aziz on Wednesday inaugurated a sea ambulance service in the Farasan Island governorate.

The governor listened to a detailed briefing from Jazan Health Director Dr. Awaji Al-Naami about the sea ambulance, which was manufactured at a cost of SR13.6 million ($3.6 million) and is equipped with the latest safety systems.

The sea ambulance has up to five beds, including an ICU bed, along with a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) device, a shock-absorbent stretcher that can adapt to waves and rough conditions at sea, a suction device, and medicines needed for emergency care.

Prince Mohammed also reviewed the action plan of the sea ambulance, which can transfer emergency cases from Farasan Island to Jazan Port within 45 minutes.

He got acquainted with the smart systems that enable the medical transfer operations center at the Emergency, Disasters, and Ambulatory Transportation General Department at the Jazan Health Directorate. The smart systems can also monitor the sea ambulance’s movements in the sea until it arrives at the port.

The sea ambulance is part of the Ministry of Health’s endeavors to provide health services to citizens and residents alike.


61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia

61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia
Updated 05 August 2021

61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia

61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia
  • Health Ministry reports 1,043 new coronavirus cases, 1,211 recoveries, 14 deaths
  • 28,492,380 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19

RIYADH: A total of 61 offenders have been arrested  in Saudi Arabia in the past week for failing to adhere to quarantine regulations after their infection of the virus was confirmed.

The media spokesman for the police in Hail region, Captain Tariq Al-Nassar, said that a video circulating of a man with a positive PCR test wandering about in a shopping mall had led to his arrest after the authorities identified him. Legal action has now been taken against him.

Al-Nassar said that the penalties for violators of the precautionary and preventive measures against COVID-19 included a fine of no more than SR500,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both. 

In Qassim region, the media spokesman for the police, Lt. Col. Badr Al-Suhaibani, said that 60 people were arrested for violating quarantine regulations after it was confirmed that they were infected with the virus. 

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday reported 14 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 8,284.

There were 1,043 new cases, meaning that 529,995 people in the country had now contracted the disease. A total of 10,393 cases remained active, of which 1,396 patients were in critical condition.

FASTFACTS

Saudi Arabia reported 1,043 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 529,995

A total of 10,393 cases remained active, of which 1,396 patients were in critical condition.

The death toll has risen to 8,284 with 14 more virus-related fatalities

28,492,380 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19

Of the newly recorded cases, 214 were in Makkah region, 192 in Riyadh region, 169 in the Eastern Province, and 65 in Madinah region.

In addition, the ministry said that 1,211 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 511,318.

The region with the highest recovery rate is Riyadh at 267, followed by Makkah at 217 and Eastern Province at 200.

Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 25,443,550 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 106,517 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Meanwhile, 28,492,380 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19, including 1,496,037 elderly people. About 55.9 percent of the population had received the first dose, while 25.9 percent had completed both doses. At this rate, 70 percent of the population is expected to have completed both doses by September 28, 2021.

Meanwhile, Rafha Health Affairs in the northern region of the Kingdom, represented by the Central Hospital, has activated virtual clinics for patients benefiting from its services in outpatient clinics.

This gives patients the option to remotely attend medical appointments in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. The management of Central Hospital explained that this service allows direct communication between doctors and their patients through interactive video communication.

“We have made remote clinics available to save people’s time and efforts, as it is possible to communicate directly with the doctor, without the need to come to the clinic,” the minister of health said earlier.


High-flying Saudi women are making the most of new career opportunities

High-flying Saudi women are making  the most of new career opportunities
Updated 05 August 2021

High-flying Saudi women are making the most of new career opportunities

High-flying Saudi women are making  the most of new career opportunities

 

JEDDAH:  Saudi women continue to embrace the new career opportunities that have opened up to them in the Kingdom in recent years, with a determination to succeed. One of the sectors in which they are increasingly making their mark is aviation.

Flight attendant Anhar Tashkandi joined Saudia airline two years ago.

“We completed the training period, which focused on ensuring the passengers’ comfort and safety,” she said. “This job offers us the opportunity to visit different countries and learn from their cultures.”

Saudi women now work as flight attendants alongside male colleagues, a job that was previously restricted to women from other countries.

Ashwaq Nasser told of her pride at being one of the first Saudi women to work in the profession.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents for supporting my choice of becoming a flight attendant,” she said. “I would also like to thank Saudia airline for providing us with the opportunity to join this program.”

Her colleague, Reham Bahmishan said that since childhood she had wondered why there were no Saudi female flight attendants.

“When I later saw that the Saudia airline was accepting applications for this position, I was very excited and applied immediately,” she said. “Thanks to Saudia, I am currently living my childhood dream.”


Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’
Updated 05 August 2021

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’
  • Says some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want”

RIYADH: Religious text must not be a “prisoner” to the interpretations of extremist groups, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) has said.

Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari stressed that some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want” and he looked forward to an integration with specialized institutions to find a proper reading of these religious texts.

Al-Shammari's comments came in a press conference on Wednesday in Riyadh, in the presence of Jehangir Khan, director of the UN Center for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT).

Al-Shammari said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.

The success of development plans, he added, depended on the ability of countries to protect their capabilities and citizens from the dangers of this ideology.

HIGHLIGHT

Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.

He praised the UN’s efforts in combating terrorism, stressing Etidal’s keenness to exchange experiences to serve the common goals and strategies of Etidal and the UNCCT.

“Etidal’s and UNCCT’s partnership came after many meetings and fruitful efforts between the two parties,” said Al-Shammari, stressing that the goal was to reach projects on the ground.

He said that Etidal and UNCCT’s efforts had culminated in the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding last April. One objective was to cooperate in building international capacities to prevent violent extremism, and to combat the use of the Internet and social media platforms to spread extremist ideology and terrorist agenda.

“Etidal is working to expose the methods of extremist organizations in targeting young people, educating them about the dangers of this thought, and disproving the suspicions that the organizations exploit in their recruitment processes,” he said.

Al-Shammari added that Etidal was aware of the dangers of this way of thinking and of the organizations that employ all means to spread it, and they had developed specialized plans and strategies to refute such thought.

Additionally, Etidal had launched a number of initiatives to increase societal interaction with the center’s goals including: Moderate, refutation, research cooperation, university training and the Gather2 Initiative, which aims to raise awareness among people with hearing disabilities about the risks of extremism.

Khan praised Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the international community in confronting extremism and protecting current and future societies and generations from its dangers, valuing the Kingdom’s efforts to cut off funding for terrorists.

He said that Etidal was a pillar of the UN’s strategy to combat terrorism, stressing that the issue of terrorism was “complicated,” and that the international community must be active and prepared to confront terrorists.

“Terrorism has no religion or homeland,” he said, noting the importance of developing anti-terror projects around the world. He warned that terrorists sought to influence young people in various forms such as video games.

 

Decoder

Etidal

Based in Riyadh, Etidal is the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with a mission of fighting extremism. To do that, it seeks to identify such the root causes of such ideologies and address them using tools and technologies such as social networks and the Internet as well as other media outlets. Its membership is open to countries, organizations, or any participating entity.