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.

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”