Saudi Arabia will have to pay up for ESL Teachers


According to World Bank data, public expenditure on education in MENA now stands at 18.6% of total government spending compared to the world average of 14.2%

Saudi Arabia leads the way with a $54.4 billion budget for 2013, an increase of $10 billion. Investment in human capital has become a top priority for the Saudi government, as spending on education has more than tripled since 2000. The budget includes plans to build 610 new schools in addition to the 3,200 already under construction.

Other Middle East initiatives include:-

  • UAE has launched the Smart Learning Initiative – this will help shape a new learning environment in public schools in the Emirates. The launch of ‘smart classes’ will provide every student with an electronic tablet and access to high speed 4G networks.
  • Bahrain has increased its commitment to education through the National Project to Develop Education and Training with a focus on E-learning; a cornerstone of the Schools Improvements Project (SIP).
  • In Kuwait the Ministry of Education is focusing development efforts on reforming teaching methods and the national curriculum; likewise it is promoting the effective use of information and communications technology in the classroom.
  • Oman has increased its education budget to $800 for last year.
  • Qatar’s desire to improve quality of education is evident from a $6 billion budget, taking it to 4% off GDP which is the highest in the region.

The plans are clearly ambitious and admirable but where are the human resources going to come from to educate those enrolled within the systems in various countries as they all compete against each other for the same talent?

2011 and 2012 already saw shortfalls in English Second Language teachers with demand exceeding supply. This is set to get worse in 2013 and will prove to be highly inflationary to the system as a whole.

As part of an international recruitment agency we can take an overview as we also see the educational demands from elsewhere in the world. MENA countries will struggle to retain existing talent or attract new talent unless the approach to the market place changes with time being spent on actually understanding what is important to ESL teachers; marketing a complete package based on the individual’s ability to deliver educational needs rather than the individuals country of birth.

We are seeing small changes occurring with the Saudi Aramco initiatives, which are to be applauded, but big changes are needed if the region is to meet the educational challenges it has set itself.

A budget without people is just a piece of paper!


Author: Chris Slay


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