IMPLEMENTATION OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES IN

IMPLEMENTATION OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES IN SAUDI ARABIA

2007

Introduction

In the modern universe instruction constitutes the footing of any societal, cultural, political, economic and spiritual alterations. As such, the system of instruction should be invariably improved today. But while developed states manage to successfully implement new engineerings in schools/universities and make appropriate educational policies, many developing states fail to truly react to the spirit of the age. This is particularly true in respect to Saudi Arabia, where the degree of ICT usage in educational constitutions has been lower than in other states over the last two decennaries. However, the recent reforms and policies tend to back up execution of new engineerings in the primary, secondary and higher educational scenes of Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the present essay is twofold: 1 ) to analyze educational engineerings in Saudi Arabia over the past 25 old ages, paying attending to certain authorities policies, and 2 ) on the footing of the acquired grounds to critically measure the factors that contribute to the success of educational engineerings in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia.

Historical background

Although in the past Saudi Arabia was well-known for its great scientific finds and considerable educational accomplishments, since the 80s old ages of the 20Thursdaycentury the state “ [ has lacked ] an incorporate vision of the instruction procedure and its objectives” ( Farjani, 2003 p.54 ) . The fact is that the educational system of Saudi Arabia is explicitly influenced by spiritual establishments ; due to this control, the country’s governments are non able to do significant alterations in primary, secondary and higher instruction. While new engineerings have been bit by bit implemented in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia over the past 25 old ages, the procedure of execution is excessively slow and it does non co-occur with modern-day globalization. As Teitelbaum ( 2002 ) provinces, “if a authorities has political, societal, or spiritual expostulations to the free flow of information, so globalization and its vehicle, the Internet, pose serious problems” ( p.223 ) . Bing afraid of Americanisation, the Wahhabis strongly opposed execution of ICT in Saudi Arabia, but they could non halt the procedure. In 1975 the authorities of Saudi Arabia established the Ministry of Higher Education ( in add-on to the Ministry of Education ) that started to better the degree of instruction in country’s universities. Originating free preparation plans on ICT, the governments involved Arabs into the technological kingdom. By the terminal of the 80s the Ministry opened seven universities, some schools for proficient preparation and teacher-training colleges in the Kingdom. However, out-of-date plans and deficiency of new engineerings in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia resulted in a considerable lessening of pupils/students in the 90s. Therefore, the major emphasis in the Fourth and Fifth Development Plans was placed on execution of engineerings within the educational scene.

Such a determination was besides made because of high degrees of unemployment in Saudi Arabia ; doubtless, in the technological age students and pupils could non make without appropriate cognition of new engineerings. But the system of instruction in Saudi Arabia was chiefly based on faith and some societal scientific disciplines ; hence, universities’ alumnuss failed to happen occupations that would fulfill their demands. Clashing with unemployment and lessening of pupils, the KACST ( King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz City for Science and Technology ) and IBM initiated GulfNet, a wide-area web in 1985. Actually, the first webs were implemented in universities of Saudi Arabia ( Al-Tawil, 2001 ) ; in peculiar, the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals ( KFUPM ) initiated the Internet in 1993. The velocity of the connexion was merely 9.6 kbps ; therefore, the KFUPM received merely two sphere names and one electronic mail. However, in 1995 the connexion was transferred to the KACST, and the velocity became higher. In 1994 fibre ocular webs were introduced in those higher educational constitutions that were involved in research activity. In 1995 it was resolved by the authorities to travel GulfNet to the IP ( Internet Protocol ) in order to unify universities, libraries and research Centres. However, due to low velocity ( 64 kbps ) and deficiency of qualified staff, the new web SaudiNet was opened merely in 1997, with two Centres – the SaudiNet Network Operations Centre ( SaudiNOC ) and the Network Information Centre ( SaudiNIC ) . In 1996 a specific interagency authorities committee was created to measure pros and cons of public Internet usage. The committee specified that the Internet would be available to citizens of Saudi Arabia through proxy waiters of the KACST. Besides, the committee provided some contracts for surveies ; in peculiar, it gave the contract to the Computer Sciences Department of KSU ( King Saud University ) , so that its members could research TCP/IP operations.

In 1996 the Computer and Information Centre ( CIC ) was created within the Ministry of Education ; in the period of 10 old ages CIC has bit by bit implemented ICT in schools of Saudi Arabia ( See Appendix 1 for statistical informations ) . In peculiar, specific computing machine nines and computing machine research labs were initiated in secondary schools and universities ( every bit good as in some primary schools ) . However, these nines and labs had merely one computing machine for 10 scholars in every school ; doubtless, this sum of computing machines was non plenty to accomplish good consequences in instruction. In 1995 the Crown Prince ‘Abdallah issued the policy that specified debut of the Internet in some universities, but entree to it was limited. Furthermore, under the force per unit area of the Wahhabis, it was decided to filtrate out inappropriate web sites. But in 1997 the authorities came frontward with the enterprise to increase usage of ICT and the Internet in schools and universities. For this intent, the Council of Ministers entrusted the KACST with a undertaking to make the Internet Services Unit ( ISU ) that will command the Internet traffic in Saudi Arabia. Thus, the major function of Internet distribution is performed by the KACST that had 40 subcontractors – Internet service suppliers ( ISPs ) .

Initially there were about 200 applications from the companies that wanted to supply Internet services in Saudi Arabia. All subcontractors were enforced to adhere to specific authorities ordinances and prohibit sites with erotica or unfavorable judgment of Islam. In 1998 Saudi Telecom Company ( STC ) , linking to the Internet through AlterNet ( New York ) , provided its lines to the KACST. The Internet became available to the general populace of Saudi Arabia in 1999 when the authorities eventually implemented appropriate control mechanisms ( although these mechanisms can non restrain all prohibited information ) . Therefore, as Boas ( 2004 ) truly claims, the country’s governments make an effort to command the Internet and, at the same time, increase its entree and usage ; the same attack is employed in Singapore, China and Germany. Today, STC creates a figure of undertakings that intensify the web and increase the velocity of the Internet in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia. However, Telecommunications Expansion Project 6 ( TEP-6 ) that dealt with execution of digital transmittal and fiber ocular cabling would be substituted for TEP-7 and TEP-8 because of hapless quality local connexions.

Current educational policies and engineering in schools/universities

Recently, the authorities of Saudi Arabia has introduced some reforms that are aimed at implementing new engineerings in schools and universities. In peculiar, in 2000 the Watani undertaking was developed by policy shapers ; it specifies that in the undermentioned few old ages SR5 billion will be spent on execution of computing machines and the Internet in all schoolrooms. Concurrently, kids and instructors will have appropriate preparation in information engineering. The Watani undertaking establishes an educational web that will execute the undermentioned maps: 1 ) give links to specific information that will be valuable to both instructors and pupils ; 2 ) suggest online classs for different degrees of cognition ; 3 ) supply school decision makers with informations on direction systems and processs, statistics and important educational resources ; 4 ) generalise information on different educational constitutions of Saudi Arabia ; 5 ) give personal electronic mails to instructors and pupils ; 6 ) novice Internet confabs and 7 ) provide information on different competitions and competitions. In add-on to the Watani undertaking, the Ministry of Education in co-operation with HP Education Services initiated the e-learning undertaking that was aimed at supplying instructors and scholars with cognition of Microsoft applications. At the first phase, preparation was conducted in 1200 schools of Saudi Arabia ( 580 intermediate and primary schools, 196 secondary schools and 500 media Centres within the school puting ) ; it is presumed that in the undermentioned old ages 60,000 pedagogues and 1.5 million scholars will have preparation in Microsoft Windows, Office and Explorer. In 2004 the Ministry of Education and Microsoft Arabia issued a specific Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU ) harmonizing to which ICT ( Information Communication Technology ) would be implemented in assorted domains of instruction, including e-learning and in-service preparation.

Due to cut down monetary values, Microsoft package is now distributed to primary schools, secondary schools and universities of Saudi Arabia. It is estimated that, as a consequence of such inventions, 30,000 instructors will get computing machine accomplishments and cognition in Microsoft Certified System Administration ( MCSA ) . In conformity with the Memorandum, the E-learning Gateway, the Digital Curriculum and the Data Centre will be installed for benefits of both scholars and learning staff. Besides, CD-ROM databases, electronic libraries and on-line public catalogues will be created within the school/college environment ( Al-Rashed, 2002 ) . In order to affect Arab adult females in instruction, the governments of Saudi Arabia have initiated distance acquisition that is conducted through the Internet ; furthermore, the authorities incites formation of private educational constitutions with good engineerings and chances for female instructors.

On history of all these inventions, Saudi Arabia bit by bit advances to Europe ; as the Global E-Government Readiness Report ( UN, 2005 ) demonstrates, the Kingdom dropped from 105 in 2003 to 90 in 2004 for ICT substructure. However, harmonizing to the World Telecommunication Development Report ( ITU, 2003 ) , in 2002 Saudi Arabia was classified as the state with Middle Access to ICT ( See Appendix 2 ) . As the chart reveals, European states have High Access to ICT, some Arab states ( United Arab Emirates, Bahran, Kuwait and Qatar ) have Upper Access, while other Arab states have Middle Access, except Syria that has Low Access to ICT. For all that, the degrees of computing machine entree in schools of Saudi Arabia is really low ( in comparing with some Arab states ) ; as Appendix 3 demonstrates, the bulk of instructors and students use computing machines at place instead than at school. For comparing, the degrees of computing machine entree in schools of Jordan are much higher ; here, staff and scholars use computing machines chiefly at schools. Therefore, the authorities of Saudi Arabia pays major attending to the figure of computing machines in computing machine labs and nines than to the quality of ICT. In respect to Internet usage, the highest entree is identified among post-graduate pupils of Saudi Arabia, while the lowest entree is recognised among pre-intermediate students ( See Appendix 4 ) . As for capable countries, scholars and instructors chiefly search information in mathematics and scientific discipline in the Internet ( the rates are about indistinguishable, as is seen in Table 1 below ) .

Table 1. Internet hunt of information in Saudi Arabia

 

  Once a hebdomad Once a month Several times a twelvemonth Never
Science 29 13 9 25
Mathematicss 28 11 10 27

( Beginning: Ministry of Education, 2003 )

However, e-journals, e-books, databases and CD-ROMs with specific information are non easy available in Saudi Arabia ( Al-Qallaf & A ; Al-Azmi, 2002 ) . In fact, entree of the academic community to these resources is inactive, although some universities open Internet libraries and supply pupils and instructors with appropriate stuffs. But even with execution of new engineerings in academic libraries, the state of affairs is unfavorable, as libraries’ staff deficiency cognition to run with such plans as Ariel and they normally refuse to utilize computing machines and the Internet, working with manual signifiers alternatively. Merely some universities in Saudi Arabia have technologically-based plans and classs for bibliothecs ; in add-on, the Arabian Advance Systems company has late conducted in-house preparation classs in on-line hunt and CD-ROM for libraries’ staff. In this regard, nowadays it is important for the governments of Saudi Arabia to set up a co-operation between assorted educational constitutions and authorities bureaus that provide ICT preparation.

Factors for the success of educational engineering

On the footing of the acquired grounds, it is possible to measure the factors that contribute to the success of educational engineerings in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia. As the chart below shows, three major facets are important for the success.

Let’s observe these facets in item. Environment is the first factor that explicitly or implicitly influences the degrees of ICT entree and usage in any state. In Saudi Arabia spiritual, societal, political and cultural kingdoms are inseparably linked with each other. Harmonizing to Boas ( 2004 ) , the royal household of the Kingdom makes everything to forestall the spread of information from such resistance groups as the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia and the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights. On the other manus, the country’s spiritual establishments oppose everything that may be a menace to spiritual tenet of Quran. As instruction forms children’s individualities, the Wahhabis resist any inventions within the educational system. They put force per unit area on the authorities of Saudi Arabia, indicating at the negative effects of technological inventions ; presumptively, 80 % of web sites are restricted in the state by spiritual governments.

Even Shiite web sites and sites on human rights are blocked in Saudi Arabia ; it is estimated that 400,000 web sites are blocked in the state yearly ( Boas, 2004 ) . On the other manus, Al-Sahat forum web site that has terrorist disposition is still available to Arabs, despite the fact that many efforts were made to barricade it. After each barricading Al-Sahat forum website re-opens in a period of 10 twenty-four hours, and the governments of Saudi Arabia can make nil to extinguish it from the Internet. The same respects such forums as Faisal Annour, Al-Hoda and Arab Arena. The Wahhabis express anxiousness that benefits of ICT are fewer than possible injury of computing machines and the Internet. However, the community of pedagogues and bookmans oppose this colored vision, and, fortuitously, it managed to carry the authorities of Saudi Arabia to implement ICT in schools and universities. Due to the Wahhabis’ control of the country’s educational system, foremost of all, it is necessary to cut down the impact of spiritual establishments on execution of ICT, as these spiritual governments seem to pull strings citizens of Saudi Arabia. Merely so it will be possible to develop policies that will increase computing machine and ICT usage in schools and universities. The findings of single research and surveies confirm this point of view. For case, the research of Al-Ghadyan ( 2004 ) reveals that it is the socio-cultural kingdom that restricts entree and usage of ICT in universities of Saudi Arabia. Using to qualitative informations ( gathered from interviews and questionnaires ) , the writer demonstrates that universities have appropriate engineerings for e-learning and in-services preparation, but the bing policies for higher instruction constrain the possibilities for growing and development of both instructors and pupils. Al-Ghadyan ( 2004 ) considers that new policies should be developed in respect to universities of Saudi Arabia. However, the authorities should ab initio carry on pilot undertakings, as educational constitutions of the Kingdom have different degrees of technological inventions.

Another facet for the success of educational engineerings is handiness and quality of ICT. Of class, today computing machines and the Internet are more available to instructors and pupils/students of Saudi Arabia than several old ages ago ( Al-Rashed, 2002 ) . However, hapless quality of the enforced engineerings and high monetary values for the Internet hinder widespread usage of ICT in country’s schools and universities. For comparing, at the terminal of 1999, the costs for Internet service “were 500 times higher than those in the US” ( Teitelbaum, 2002 p.232 ) . Due to these jobs, the degrees of Internet usage in educational constitutions are low. Despite the fact that today Saudi Telecom gives 30 % price reduction for those schools and universities that use the Internet, the bulk of schools are connected at the velocity of either 128 kbps or 256 kbps. Merely 2,130 schools have the velocity of 512 kbps. Clashing with slow downloads and broken connexions, instructors and scholars prefer to utilize other information beginnings, although these beginnings are normally outdated. As the traffic in Saudi Arabia passes through the KACST that has merely one node, assorted proficient jobs occur when people use the Internet.

Under such fortunes it is impossible to successfully complete Internet-based acquisition. Today some ISPs in Saudi Arabia want to get permission for direct entree to the Internet ; nevertheless, the KACTS speaks against this determination, indicating out that in this instance immature scholars may entree pornographic or other unsafe sites. On the one manus, this point of view has some cogency, as ISP may neglect to filtrate all out sites ; on the other manus, harmonizing to Kalathil and Boas ( 2003 ) , kids may entree these sites through illegal VSATs ( Very Small Aperture Terminals ) that now appear in Saudi Arabia or through abroad placeholder waiters and unrestricted histories in bordering countries of the Kingdom. The latter way was frequently used before 1999. Besides, sites’ filtering in Saudi Arabia is non exposed to rigorous mechanisms ; as such, filtrating frequently occurs in insouciant ways. Hence, the government’s determination to originate one Centre for filtrating web sites is non sensible, as the KACST provides hapless quality Internet and fails to forestall the spread of illegal entree to prohibit sites. Policy shapers in Saudi Arabia should gain that any prohibition consequences in a figure of negative effects, as a out fruit is tasty. Alternatively of concentrating on sites’ filtering, the authorities should happen the ways to better quality of the Internet and cut down monetary values for Internet services, as these two factors are major obstructions for the success of educational engineerings in the school and university scene. Furthermore, unlike the country’s universities, many schools in Saudi Arabia lack appropriate engineerings for acquisition and instruction. The survey of AI-Rashed ( 2002 ) reveals that handiness of computing machines and the Internet in primary schools is really low. In the ascertained schools the budget does non imagine heavy disbursals on new engineerings and appropriate preparation. As a consequence, more than half of pedagogues have no accomplishments in ICT ; the qualitative information ( taken from a questionnaire study and interviews with authorities functionaries and instructors ) depict that merely private schools in Saudi Arabia provide developing to instructors. Despite the fact that the governments invariably unfastened proficient colleges and specific proficient Centres, the Kingdom experiences deficit of qualified bookmans and technicians. Table 2 below reveals that the government’s investing in ICT preparation is much lower than the investing in computing machine hardware.

Table 2. Investing in ICT in Saudi Arabia

 

$ 140 billion Physical substructure
$ 70.7 billion Telecom and IT
$ 10.7 billion Training and instruction

( Beginning: Saudi Committee for Development of International Trade, 2004 )

Finally, the 3rd facet that has a great impact on the success of educational engineerings in Saudi Arabia is preparedness of instructors and pupils/students to utilize computing machines and the Internet. As surveies of AI-Rashed ( 2002 ) and Al-Ghadyan ( 2004 ) decidedly show, staff and scholars in universities and schools display positive attitudes to new engineerings, particularly to the Internet. The research of AI-Mohaissin ( 1993 ) points out that preparedness is closely connected with teachers’ cognition of ICT and single ownership of computing machines ; in other words, those instructors who have computing machines at place or at least have appropriate cognition of word processors are more willing to utilize computing machines and the Internet in the procedure of their instruction.

Hence, merely when all three factors ( environment, handiness and preparedness ) will be consolidated, it will be possible to successfully implement and utilize engineerings in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia. The fact is that, harmonizing to the recent research and surveies ( e.g. Liao, 1992 ; Christmann, Badgett & A ; Lucking, 1997 ) , mere execution of computing machines in schools and universities does non well influence larning results. Rather, integrating of socio-cultural and technological alterations provides positive consequences for larning and learning. Actually, a new coevals of Saudis differs from the old coevals ; this new coevals is more broad and easy accepts new engineerings. In this respect, the authorities of Saudi Arabia should non set obstructions to those immature persons who are in hunt of growing and development. In the long tally, civilization is formed by people, and if people are deprived of the possibilities to develop, civilization will be bit by bit eliminated. Actually, deficiency of computing machines and the Internet in schools and universities of Saudi Arabia resulted in creative activity of Internet coffeehouse in 1998 ; those pupils/students who want to acquire entree to computing machines should put an order beforehand. Undoubtedly, this is non a really convenient manner for information acquisition ; besides, kids under 18 can non see Internet coffeehouse without grownups. No admiration that under such conditions kids seldom use Internet coffeehouse for their surveies. This particularly regards females who prefer non to see Internet coffeehouse because of the negative attitude of their relations to the Internet, in general, and Internet coffeehouse, in peculiar. In Mecca the local governments decided to extinguish the lone female Internet cafe , indicating at moral decay of adult females under the impact of ICT. The governments of other metropoliss besides oppose the gap of Internet coffeehouse for adult females, claiming that the Internet provides females with freedom and moral values that have little in common with civilization and faith of Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, some female instructors and pupils have computing machines at place, and, therefore, the closing of Internet coffeehouse can non forestall them from geting information for acquisition and instruction. In position of the above analysis, Table 3 summarises current jobs with educational engineerings in Saudi Arabia and provides solutions that may better the state of affairs with ICT.

Table 3. The factors that hinder the success of educational engineerings in Saudi Arabia

Current jobs with ICT in Saudi Arabia Suggested solutions
1 ) Poor quality of the Internet in schools and universities a ) Give permission to ISPs for direct entree to the Internet ;

B ) Change dial-up engineerings for the Cable Internet ;

degree Celsius ) Open new gateways

2 ) Wahhabis’ control of the country’s

educational system

a ) Issue policies that will divide spiritual kingdoms from technological and educational kingdoms

B ) Provide equal chances of instruction for males and females

3 ) Lack of preparation in ICT a ) Develop policies for staff preparation, particularly for school instructors and bibliothecs

B ) Increase budget on ICT preparation in schools and universities

degree Celsius ) Initiate in-service classs, particularly recognition IL ( Information Literacy ) classs

( Beginnings: Al-Tawil, 2001 ; Teitelbaum, 2002 ; Ashoor, 2005 )

 

Decision

Analyzing educational engineerings in Saudi Arabia over the past 25 old ages, the essay suggests that today it is particularly important for policy shapers to develop new educational policies that will match with the demands of the academic community. While recent execution of ICT and other engineerings in schools/universities of Saudi Arabia is considered to be instead successful ( though the degrees of ICT usage in universities are higher than in schools, particularly primary schools ) , the bing policies impede the educational procedure. Although scholars and learning staff reveal positive attitudes to new engineerings, they fail to gain from these inventions because of insufficient and out-of-date policy determinations. Hence, quantitative information from the Ministry of Education and other authorities bureaus of Saudi Arabia provide a different image of ICT entree and usage than qualitative findings from the recent research and surveies. As execution of ICT is closely connected with societal, cultural and spiritual facets, the authorities of Saudi Arabia should pay peculiar attending to those factors that impede the educational procedure. In this regard, policy shapers collide with a contention: on the one manus, new educational policies should non interrupt the spiritual and societal system of the Kingdom, while, on the other manus, they should conform to cultural and technological globalization. Although some control of the Internet is necessary, the governments of Saudi Arabia should happen a balance between sites’ limitations and free entree, as the bend towards one way at the disbursal of another way will ensue in negative effects for pedagogues and scholars.

Appendixs

Appendix 1. ICT in schools of Saudi Arabia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 2. Entree to ICT in European and Arab states ( 2002 )

Appendix 3. The degrees of computing machine entree in some Arab states

Beginning: Ministry of Education, 2002-2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 4. Use of the Internet in Saudi Arabia

Beginning: Ministry of Education, 2003

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