Riyadh, Dec 13: The Saudi Ministry of Education is giving the finishing touches to the bylaw regulating the functioning of private schools in the Kingdom.
According to the bylaw, it is mandatory for private schools that follow a foreign curriculum including Indian curriculum to teach the history and geography of Saudi Arabia. These schools shall teach Saudi students national identity as a subject in the curriculum. Punitive measures, including fines of up to SR500000, will be taken against violators of the regulations.
It is permissible for the private sector and the non-profit sector to provide education services in various phases of general education by applying quality standards, and improving the level of performance and outputs through private schools.
Teachers in private schools are required to obtain a valid professional license issued by the Saudi Education and Training Evaluation Commission.
The regulations state that Saudis or foreign investors can apply for a license to run foreign schools. Saudis and foreign investors can also apply together in partnership between them. Public interest entities can also apply for a license.
According to the new bylaw, the applicant must obtain a commercial registration necessary to practice the activity beforehand and must not have previously faced disciplinary action while serving in a government or private school.
If the applicant is a foreign investor, he or she must have obtained a license from the Ministry of Investment, in addition to proof of previous experience in extending educational services. The investment license must cover educational activities and services.
If the owner of the establishment fails to meet one of the conditions stipulated in the bylaw, they may transfer the licensing right to another person who fulfills these conditions within a period of three months or the end of the school year whichever is earlier, after obtaining permission from the Ministry of Education.
The new bylaw obligates private schools to appoint a principal and qualified educational and administrative staff in accordance with the size of the school and to formulate rules with regard to tuition fees and the mechanism for collecting them.
It is permissible for a private school to request an amendment in the academic calendar in accordance with the rules set by the Ministry of Education. In the event schools receive incentives, subsidies, or financial loans, a balance sheet of revenues and expenditures shall be prepared and deposited in a special account.
The bylaw stipulates that the Ministry of Education approves incentives to enable and encourage the practice of providing educational services by private schools in accordance with the rules for incentives approved by the relevant authorities. These include assistance in cash and kind, technical subsidies, and the use of land, buildings, and state-owned buildings in the education sector as per an investment or usufruct agreement concluded by the ministry or its representative with the beneficiary of the subsidy.
According to the bylaw, infringement of its provisions and rules, offending the religion of Islam, Saudi Arabia, its leaders and public figures, and the breach of intellectual security of society or health and safety requirements are punishable violations.
Punitive measures will be taken against the offenders. There will be one or more penalties, taking into account the situation of students during the academic year. The penalties include a warning and suspension of new admissions until the violation is corrected, which is mandatory within 14 days from the date of serving a warning notice. The school may face a fine not exceeding SR500,000, final closure of school or revocation of its license, and deportation of the school principal or any one of its teachers.
The size of the violation and its recurrence is taken into account when imposing the penalties. The size of the school, the quality of its outputs, and its community participation in difficult conditions are also considered. An appeal to the minister against decisions issued with regard to the penalties is permissible within a month of its issuance.