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The Saudi Arabia K-12 Education System

The Ministry of Education manages the school education in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, there are state-run as well as private schools. The state schools follow a Saudi general curriculum that is mainly in Arabic and more focus is put on Islamic education. In the start of grade 4, English is introduced in state schools. In private schools, English is taught from starting, i.e. from kindergarten. In Saudi Arabia, there are separated classes for female and male students.

Public education in Saudi Arabia starts with primary education that lasts for 6 years and is compulsory, followed by intermediate and secondary education lasting 3 years each. Education in Saudi Arabia is free at all K-12 educational levels.

Saudi K-12 Educational Levels

Pre-Primary Education

Pre-primary education in Saudi Arabia is not mandatory, and is provided by nursery schools, pre-schools and kindergarten.
  • Pre-schools are for children aged 3 and above
  • Kindergarten comprises of 2 years:
    • First year is for children aged 4
    • Second year is for children aged 5

Primary Education

The primary education provide Islamic education, develops the basic literacy and numeracy skills, and the feeling of responsibility to towards the society. This educational level focuses on religious studies and Arabic culture, along with general studies and science. 
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Ages: 6 to 12
  • Grades: 1 to 6
At the end of grade 6, students are required to take an exam, and those who pass receive an elementary education certificate and are eligible for next educational level.

Curriculum: Mathematics, history, Islamic education, fine arts, geography, science, Arabic language, home economics for girls, civics, and physical education for boys.

Intermediate Education

This educational level provide skills and knowledge as per the children’s age, provides Islamic education, develops intellectual and scientific thinking skills, encourage pupils to seek knowledge through scientific reasoning, and also prepares students for secondary educational level.
  • Ages: 12 to 15
  • Duration: 3 years
  •  Grades: 7 to 9
Curriculum: Mathematics, Arabic, religious education, history, art education, science, English, home economics (for girls), geography, and physical education (for boys).

Students who pass this educational level obtain an intermediate school certificate and are eligible for next educational level, i.e. either go for general secondary education or vocational and technical secondary education.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Saudi Arabia provides a comprehensive Islamic education, instills in them the research abilities, and enables them to carry on their studies in higher education institutions. 

In Saudi Arabia, there are many secondary education options: there are arts and science studies for girls; natural sciences, religious education and Arabic, applied sciences, social sciences and administrative studies for boys; secondary teacher training schools for girls; and also there are commercial, agricultural and industrial secondary institutes. 

Secondary education in Saudi Arabia consists of three types of schools:
  • General/Regular secondary education schools
  • Religious secondary schools
  • Vocational and technical secondary education and training

General/Regular Secondary Education

The regular secondary education in Saudi Arabia develops scientific and academic attitude, and also prepares students for higher education. 
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Grades: 9 to 12
Curriculum: In the first year, there is a single curriculum for all the students. In second and third year, students focus either on literary or scientific fields.
First year curriculum: Mathematics, Arabic studies, science, English, Islamic studies, home economics is for girls only, social studies and physical education s for boys only.

After completing this educational level, pupils must appear for a general secondary school examination, known as Tawjihi, and those who pass get the “General Secondary Education Certificate”, which makes them eligible for higher education in Saudi Arabia.

Religious Secondary School

These schools are religious oriented. These schools provide the understanding of Islamic regulation in daily life. 
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Duration: 3 years 
Curriculum: The curriculum in these schools emphasize on Arabic and Islamic education. In addition, following subjects are also taught: English, Arabic literature, history, general culture, and Geography.

Students who complete their studies at religious secondary school and pass the examination, get the “Secondary Education Certificate of the Religious Institute”, thus are eligible for higher religious studies.

Technical and Vocational Secondary Education

The Technical and Vocational training corporation (TVTC) manages all technical and vocational training courses in Saudi Arabia. The technical and vocational education and training provide specific profession skills and knowledge.

There are three kinds of technical and vocational secondary education: technical and vocational, agricultural, and commercial.
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Duration: 3 years
Curriculum: 
  • For Technical and Vocational: Metal mechanics, architectural drawing, television and radio, auto mechanics, machine mechanics, and electricity. Along with technical subjects, following subjects are also taught: Physical education, Arabic studies, physics, mathematics, religious education, chemistry, and English.
  • For Agriculture branch: Applied mathematics, horticulture, agricultural economics, applied biology, Arabic, agronomy, applied physics, marketing, animal husbandry, religious education, applied chemistry, English, plant nutrition, applied physics, and farm management.
  • For Commercial branch: English, general mathematics, Arabic, economics, bookkeeping and accounting, geography, commercial correspondence, religious studies, management and secretarial, and financial mathematics.
Certificates awarded: Students who finish any of the vocational and  technical secondary courses get a secondary school diploma- diploma of secondary vocational school; diploma of the secondary agricultural school, or the secondary commercial school diploma.

School Year

The school academic year in Saudi Arabia begins in August-end or September-end and concludes in June. The school year is divided into 2 to 3 terms. The dates of the schools vary between public and private schools. 

School week: 5 days, with Friday and Saturday being the weekends.

School timings: 6:30/7:00 am to 3:00 pm (depending on the grade and school)

School holidays: The dates vary, so contact the school to know about the holidays. 
  • Summer term starts in mid-April and ends in late June
  • Autumn term: Begins in September and ends just before Christmas
  • Spring term: Commences after New Year and concludes in March-end.
Official and Religious Holidays
All the schools in Saudi Arabia have following holidays:
  • National day: for 1 day 
  • Eid Al Adha (The Feast of the End of Hajj): for 12 days

  • Eid Al Fitr (The Feast of the End of Ramadan): for 1 week

Special Needs Education 

Children with physical and mental disabilities are provided special education in public and private schools in Saudi Arabia, and are considered as regular students.
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