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Saudi Arabia – Education and Schools

Saudi Arabia is a country located in the Middle East with a population of approximately 35 million people. The education system in Saudi Arabia is overseen by the Ministry of Education. In this article, we will explore the quality of education in Saudi Arabia, the compulsory education ages, breakdown the types of schools available by age, syllabus and qualifications offered, typical school hours and holidays, enrollment process, and international schools. We will also provide information on higher education options in Saudi Arabia.

Quality of Education in Saudi Arabia

The quality of education in Saudi Arabia has been a topic of debate for many years. While the government has made significant investments in education, there are still concerns about the quality of education, particularly in rural areas. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, Saudi Arabian students scored below the average in mathematics, reading, and science.

Compulsory Education Ages

In Saudi Arabia, education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. This includes primary and lower secondary education.

Types of Schools Available in Saudi Arabia

Primary School

Primary school is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 12 and lasts for six years. Students learn subjects such as mathematics, science, social studies, language, and physical education.

Lower Secondary School


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Lower secondary school is compulsory for students between the ages of 12 and 15. Lower secondary school lasts for three years and focuses on the core subjects of mathematics, science, social studies, language, and physical education.

Upper Secondary School

Upper secondary school is not compulsory, but it is available for students between the ages of 15 and 18. Upper secondary school lasts for three years and offers a range of subjects, including mathematics, science, social studies, language, and physical education.

Syllabus and Qualifications

Schools in Saudi Arabia follow a national curriculum that is overseen by the Ministry of Education. The curriculum includes subjects such as mathematics, science, social studies, language, and physical education.

After completing upper secondary education, students can take the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination, which is a recognized qualification for higher education.

School Hours and Holidays

School hours in Saudi Arabia vary depending on the level of education. Primary school students typically have five hours of class per day, while secondary school students have six hours of class per day.

The school year in Saudi Arabia runs from September to June and includes three terms. Students have a one-week break in October, a two-week break for winter vacation, and a one-week break in April.

Enrollment Process

In order to enroll in a school in Saudi Arabia, students must provide a birth certificate, a proof of address, and a photo. For students transferring from another school, a transfer certificate is also required.

There is significant competition for enrollment in the more prestigious schools in Saudi Arabia, particularly in urban areas.

International Schools in Saudi Arabia

For expat families, there are several international schools available in Saudi Arabia that offer education in English or other languages. These schools typically follow the curriculum of their home country and offer qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).

Some international schools in Saudi Arabia include:

Higher Education in Saudi Arabia

There are several higher education options available in Saudi Arabia, including universities, colleges, and vocational schools. Saudi Arabian universities offer undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of subjects, including engineering, medicine, law, and humanities.

In order to be eligible for higher education in Saudi Arabia, students must have the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination or an equivalent qualification.

Some popular universities in Saudi Arabia include:

In conclusion, the education system in Saudi Arabia is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15 and includes primary and lower secondary education. Schools in Saudi Arabia follow a national curriculum overseen by the Ministry of Education and offer qualifications that qualify students for higher education. School hours and holidays vary depending on the level of education, and enrollment in schools is competitive. For expat families, there are several international schools available in Saudi Arabia that offer education in English or other languages. Finally, higher education options in Saudi Arabia include universities, colleges, and vocational schools that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of subjects.


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