While the gears of change turn slowly in Saudi Arabia, they do turn. Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that efforts to teach English in state schools, starting at the fourth grade, will come into effect. Soon… two years from now.
When I was last assigned to Saudi Arabia in 2003, the effort was to introduce English language instruction at the sixth grade. It was a contentious issue, with many decrying the ‘foreignization’ of young Saudis. Now, English is being taught in the fifth grade. Moving two grades in ten years is not a negligible advance – it takes far more than just willing it to be so. Teachers must be trained or hired from abroad; textbooks must be written; all the supplemental materials must be created or bought.
English language classes to be rolled out in schools
Kingdom-wide as planned: Official
Abdullah Obaidallah Al-Ghamdi \ Okaz/Saudi Gazette
JEDDAH – English language classes for 4th grade public school students will be formalized within two years and rolled out to all of the Kingdom’s schools, said Naif Al-Roumi, Undersecretary for Development and Planning at the Ministry of Education.
Previously, students began learning English language in the 5th grade, however, after much criticism, the ministry launched a pilot program to introduce English language classes a year earlier. A total of 4,182 boys and girls in schools all over the Kingdom took part in the pilot program this past academic year.
Al-Roumi said the program had been a success and categorically denied that the ministry had shelved plans to introduce English language classes to 4th graders.