Saudi Arabia ‘will need over 1m new schools by 2020’
JEDDAH, 9 days ago
Based on current growth rates, Saudi Arabia is predicted to need over a million new school places by 2020 in grades 1-12, of which 150,000 are expected to come from the private sector, a report said.
The number of private schools in the Kingdom has only been growing at 3 per cent per annum, with the strongest growth being seen at the primary level, where enrolment in public schools has declined, according to the “GCC Education Sector: a country by country overview” published by PwC Middle East, a top professional services firm.
Despite further growth expected in the private sector, market share for private schools is unlikely to grow from around 11 per cent to the aspirational 25 per cent unless significant changes are seen to encourage growth and investment.
Sally Jeffery, PwC Partner, Middle East Education & Skills Practice Leader and Global Education Sector leader, said: “By 2020, Saudi Arabia is predicted to need over a million new school places for grades 1-12 and 125,000 seats in post-secondary. With an already high university enrolment rate, predominantly at public institutions, the Kingdom is facing budgetary pressure and a shortage of good alternatives to public universities. In the coming years, it will be crucial for the government to help deliver more private sector education provision.”
Opportunity for public private partnership
The report also indicates that tightening restrictions on international visa and scholarship qualifications may cause a proportion of the estimated 190,000 Saudi students that study abroad each year (12 per cent of all university enrolled students in 2014) to look for university places at home. Finding places will be harder however; added pressure on funding public provision in the Kingdom may mean additional demand for private institutions, which will consequently need to enhance their capacity and offerings.
Saudi Arabia faces tough policy choices in Higher Education. If historical rates of enrolment continue, and the university age population continues to grow, around 125,000 additional seats will be required in post-secondary education by 2020.
Questions arise around how to encourage the private sector to increase capacity, and what alternatives can be offered (such as vocational and technical training) which are attractive to young people leaving school and seeking success in a knowledge-based economy. In the coming years, it will be crucial for the government to further enable the private sector to ensure adequate provision. – TradeArabia News Service