In 70 years, Saudi Arabia has formed a nationwide educational system that provides free education from preschool through university to all citizens. Today, there are eight universities, over 100 colleges and more than 26,000 schools. Some 5 million students are enrolled in the educational system, which boasts a student to teacher ratio of 12.5 to 1.0 – one of the lowest in the world.
The Saudi government recently conducted an audit, which determined that about five percent of school textbooks and curriculum guides contained possibly offensive language. A program is now in place to eliminate such material from schools.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah recently urged a gathering in Riyadh of young people from around the world to shun extremism, saying: "Ours is a tolerant and temperate faith and we must conduct ourselves accordingly. There is no room for extremism or compulsion in Islam. In fact, it violates the tenets of our faith and the traditions of our Prophet."
The Crown Prince also told the gathering: "Wisdom and reason must guide your statements and actions; you must not let emotions sway you. It is your responsibility, when you return to your nations, to counsel people to employ wisdom, patience and reason in dealing with issues."
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal recently stated: “We are working very hard to build a world-class educational system which will help our children be prepared to make substantial contributions to the global society. Our schools and our faith teach peace and tolerance.”
The Saudi commitment to its education system also includes approved budgets for the construction of 780 new schools as well as improvements to another 380 schools. Part of this funding will improve and equip a number of educational facilities, such as supplying schools with computers and laboratory equipment. The funding will also provide maintenance to existing schools.