Prospects of Higher Education (AFAQ):
Contemporary global trends shows increasing dependency of the states, in the future on the quality of educational achievements as well as on cognitive investment, in human resources. It is expected to witness competition in this field, possibly rendering knowledge as substitute to material wealth and a key driver of economic development.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia found necessary for it to take the lead in the transition to a knowledge-based economy and to acquire a globally prominent position. As it is certain that higher education significantly contributes in building the knowledge-based society, provided that if it is based on a well-thought methodology and a clear long-term vision.
As per the instructions of the judicious leadership of kingdom, the Ministry of Education implemented a project of setting up a Plan for higher education in the kingdom; the Afaq project, it is based on strategic planning methods and mechanisms. This project aims at Developing a 25-year strategic plan, by setting the vision, mission, strategic dimensions and a practical implementation mechanism.
A methodology that is based on the teachings of the Islamic religion, and the directives of the judicious leadership was developed for the Afaq project. All relevant issues, success requirements, expansion of participation, the relationship between the concerned parties, and the significance to relevant development plans, usage of international experiences and trends, quality control, the development of a culture to be put into practice with a view to achieve the desired impact.
The achievement of the sought strategic objectives, and the development of a mechanism and indicators to measure improvement of performance were all taken into consideration in the Afaq project methodology. The outcome was a strategic plan with an ambitious vision, a clear mission and several executive programs that address current issues or direct existing initiatives and pave the way for the achievement of the future vision.
E-Learning and Distance Learning:
The Ministry of Education seeks to achieve its ambitious plan which is introduced in the Afaq project by ways of technology investment, and traditional education development. The current situation has required that we transform traditional education into a comprehensive system that would enrich the education process with the goal of building an integral knowledge-based society.
The Ministry has established the National Center for e-Learning, and Distance Learning (NCeL) to serve as a place where a promising future is built for e-Learning and Distance Learning in KSA. NCeL's vision is focused on the establishment of an integrated educational system based on modern technologies adopted in e-Learning and Distance Learning. This system takes the form of a national body that pursues advancement, and excellence in education. The center also seeks to be a house of experience and a national reference in its area of specialty.
NCeL has the following objectives:
- Distribute e-Learning and Distance Learning Applications which are in conformity with quality standards.
- Contribute to the assessment of e-Learning and Distance Learning programs.
- Support e-Learning and Distance Learning research and studies.
- Set quality standards for the design, production and publication of digital learning materials.
- Advice related parties in their areas of specialty.
- Encourage the creation of educational software and circulate such software to serve the educational process in government and private higher education institutions.
- Promote and coordinate outstanding e-Learning and Distance Learning projects.
- Organize meetings, conferences and workshops that contribute to the development of e-Learning and Distance Learning.
- Build cooperation relations with international organizations and institutions operating in the field of e-Learning and Distance Learning.
For more information about NCeL, please visit
The Saudi Digital Library:
The Saudi Digital Library (SDL) is the largest collection of academic information resources in the Arab world. SDL includes over 310,000 scientific references covering the different academic disciplines. The library's content is continuously updated, providing huge resources of knowledge in the long run. SDL serves as an umbrella to all the universities in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It negotiates with publishers on different legal and financial issues, saving significant amounts of money and time. Grouping of Saudi universities under one umbrella allows SDL to obtain more rights and benefits for publishers.
This is a digital environment that is available for several Saudi universities and collaborating research organizations. Advantages and benefits of such environment cannot be reached or provided alone by any single organization, these advantages are:
- A single central management that continuously manages and updates SDL's huge content.
- Benefit Sharing: Each university benefits from the resources provided by the other universities in any scientific field.
- Enhancement in the standing of universities' for the assessment needed for academic accreditation, through the provision of rich and modern resources published by the best global publishers.
- Bridging the gap between Saudi universities, as newly established universities can receive the same services offered to major universities.
For more information about Saudi Digital Library, please visit
Educational Buildings and Facilities:
Educational buildings and facilities, are among the most important requirements of the education process and the Ministry has given high priority to them. The Ministry has always sought to expand the construction and maintenance of educational buildings and facilities.
Section (5) introduces some initiatives in this regard including the regulation of land allocation to investors for school construction, ARAMCO school adaption to accommodate private education programs, and the inauguration of a campaign to assess and develop the education sector's infrastructure.
Scientific Research and Knowledge:
Scientific research occupies a prominent standing in modern states given the role it plays in community development and progress. Therefore, the Ministry aims at enhancing scientific research, knowledge production, dissemination, employment and the expansion of postgraduate programs.
The report addresses (54) initiatives related to scientific research and knowledge some of them are:
- The Excellence Research Center
- The Promising Research Center
- The Distinctive Planning Blog
- The National Robot Olympiad
- The Scientific Olympiads
- Nashr Program
- Research Works Development Center
Private education has experienced recent expansions and there has been a steady growth of private schools and universities in recent times, this reflects the success of Ministry's policies, that aims at improving the contribution of private education for the achievement of developmental objectives.
Initiatives implemented in this area include the organization of the forum on the quality and investment in private and external education, the support provided to private education to reach 25% of the total number of students, the classification of national private higher education institutions and attracting prominent international universities.
The outcomes of education are used in development to achieve consistency between outcomes, development programs and the needs of the labor market. The Ministry is striving to achieve consistency between development requirements and the needs of the society.
The report observes over (40) initiatives that achieve this end includes the following:
- Work and Education
- The Academic - Industrial Partnerships for Job Skills Enhancement
- Employment of External Students and Holders of Health Diplomas
- Tawteen (Saudization)
- The National project for the Measurement of Higher Education Outcomes
- The Saudi National Qualifications Framework
- Small Professional Projects … etc.
The granting of overseas scholarships is among the necessary requirements for the qualification of national manpower. It allows students to join world-class educational institutions and equipping them to fulfill developmental needs.
The report observes (12) initiatives including:
- Your Job first and then your Scholarship
- Overseas Scholarships Strategy
- Study on Labor Market Needs (Disciplines not covered by Saudi universities)
- Attracting and Granting Scholarships to Outstanding Students
- Scholarship Recipient Exchange Programs
- Entrepreneurs who were Scholarship Recipients and Attracting
Outstanding Teaching Assistants