Norah al-Faiz is supposed to be a symbol of progress in Saudi Arabia. She was appointed deputy minister of education by King Abdullah in February 2009, making her the kingdom’s highest-ranking female official. At the time, many observers hailed the move as a sign of reform.
But controversy has dogged Faiz since the beginning of her tenure. Continue reading at Foreign Policy…
Update 6/27/2012: Saudi state press agency published this new photo of al-Faiz, reportedly taken in Riyadh last night during her visit to an Aramco cultural event. She is the first from the left in the black abaya.
Abdullah Al-Obeid, the Minister of Education, is all over the front pages these days to brag about the new e-learning initiative his ministry has recently launched.
I think he can brag. After all, the man has single-handedly solved all the problems that have plagued our education system for decades. Female teachers no longer get killed on the road to their schools in God-forsaken remote places; all the textbooks have been fixed to be moderate and up-to-date; and extremist teachers have been kicked out for good.
That’s why it comes as no surprise to read about their latest genius decision: they will not issue any renewals for permission for Saudi students to attend international schools. Not that it was easy to enroll your kids in international schools in the past. I am told that it takes a hellova a wasta to do that, but now even your big ‘wow’ can’t save your kids from the Saudi education system.
Moreover, they say British schools will have to accept only British pupils, German schools German pupils, Indian schools Indian students, and so on. Nonsense. Because most international schools will not be able to operate without Saudi students who make up the bulk of enrollment.
Earlier this week, Tariq Al-Maeena published a letter from a distressed mother who says she would rather have her kids home schooled or move to Dubai or Bahrain. I don’t know what MOE has to say about the reasons behind their ruling, but in a country where the government think they can tell you what (or what not) to name your kids, it is only understandable that they know what’s best for the kids once it is time for them to go to school.