The Kingdom is held in high esteem by citizens of Arab and Islamic countries. They love and appreciate its role in the Islamic world. I have noticed this fact several times when talking with intellectuals and writers from different Arab countries. This love will definitely grow when the Kingdom reaches the level of developed countries in terms of respect for human beings, freedom, tolerance, dialogue and the diversification of income sources.
A strong education system is the key to reaching the level of advanced countries, such as Singapore, Finland and South Korea. These three countries were among the most impoverished 30 years ago. Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.”
Our education system is currently not consistent with the Kingdom’s spiritual, economic, political and military status. I believe our public education system needs sweeping reforms to make students love education more and reduce the pressure on teachers.
Anyone who wants to know how our education system is failing to work properly should go to the nearest mall or park and see the amount of trash and food on the ground. Look at how reckless our drivers are, how smoking and drugs have spread in society, and how smart devices have made us lazy.
Most families are ignorant or negligent and uneducated. We need an excellent education system that introduces comprehensive changes to school and university curricula, focuses on quality not quantity, builds strong skills, uses fun ways to teach students, and involves students in the education process, especially at the elementary level.
I suggest that the elementary level of education should be four years and that women should teach both boys and girls because women are more patient and able to control students. Reading and writing skills as well as morals and ethics should be taught to students in the first four years. Students should be encouraged to read a book each week, engage in physical exercise, avoid smoking, fight obesity and keep fit.
Secondly, we should use the help of global experts to keep our education system abreast of those in advanced countries. Several attempts have been made before but have failed due to resistance from within the Ministry of Education and the obstacles put in the way of experts. Rote memorization should be replaced with the application of skills and comprehension.
I remember seeing a little boy who was chasing a cat and throwing stones at it while his mother was sitting at a distance watching him. I stopped him and told him about the woman who entered Paradise because she gave water to a thirsty dog. He just ignored me and went on chasing the cat and throwing stones at it.
He did not care about what I said to him because he did not apply those teachings at home or at school. The same thing holds true to other things. In other words, our children learn about cleanliness, the importance of health and other values, but they do not apply them in real life.
Reforming the education system is important for the Kingdom’s stability and security and will prevent our young men from joining terrorist organizations as well as reduce the percentage of school dropouts. The latter plays an influential role in the country’s economy and primary healthcare services. When we develop our citizens and improve public services, we will reap the benefits in the present and future.
Building elementary schools with the partnership of experts from countries that have successful educational systems and ensuring that our teachers are qualified are important factors for improving our education system. If these changes to elementary education prove to be successful after a few years, we should reform the intermediate and secondary education systems.
Women should be given a leading role in reforming education.
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