Overcrowded Saudi classrooms ‘hampering learning process’

Updated 15 October 2014

Overcrowded Saudi classrooms ‘hampering learning process’

Overcrowded classrooms are affecting the performance of teachers and students, according to several educationists.
Saudi education regulations stipulate that there must be a maximum of 30 students in classes in government school buildings and 20 students in rented buildings. There are now over 40 students in many of these classes, teachers say.
This has created an untenable situation where it becomes difficult for them to teach, and students to learn, because there is not enough time for in-depth discussion on schoolwork in 45 to 50 minutes, they say.
Budgets have been allocated to resolve this issue at big schools in densely populated neighborhoods. However, the situation persists. This indicates that there are not enough schools in certain areas now to cater for the demands of the growing population, they argue.
Ali Al-Zahrani, a teacher, said: “The problem started two years ago, forcing several schools to establish additional classrooms to resolve it. I believe this is not a radical solution.”
“The Ministry of Education is silent and not helping to find solutions. Establishing additional classes requires a budget for special equipment and salaries for new teachers. The ministry has not been successful in doing this, even though there are unemployed graduates sitting at home waiting for jobs.”
Al-Zahrani said that resolving the problem includes controlling admissions based on the academic performance of students. In addition, the ministry should transfer some expatriate students, especially those who are not Arab-speakers to private schools.
He said the ministry should pay teachers overtime to teach students in densely populated cities.
“Overcrowded classes have affected the results and the outputs of students negatively and increased the number of unemployed high school graduates.”
Awadh Al-Shehri, student affairs deputy at a public school here, said: “Overcrowded classrooms do not provide an appropriate learning environment for teachers and students because classes that exceed 25 students are hard to control and monitor. Students cannot focus or understand the information in such an environment. A lot of teachers and students are frustrated because of this.”
“Teachers with classes of more than 40 students face several problems including delays in starting because they are busy adjusting and preparing students for the lesson, and the inability to follow up with students. They are also unable to help slow-learning students or ones who have problems inside or outside school.”
Al-Shehri said schools have become less attractive for good students. “Good students cannot comprehend the lessons, or focus on or discuss issues with teachers. It weakens motivation and creativity among students. In addition, some students are distracted because they are often sitting close to bad students.”
Abdulghani Al-Amri, a school principal, said overflowing classrooms allow less interaction between teachers and students, resulting in lower grades. There are also health issues that have to be considered, with students likely to fall ill more quickly from infectious diseases in a packed classroom.
“The ill-prepared meals served at schools make the problem even worse,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”