The Transformation of the Directory of Education into Ministry of Education

Establishment of the Ministry of Education

Ever since The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was unified by King Abdel Aziz (may Allah have mercy on his soul) , has known uninterrupted progress and development in all fields: political, military, cultural, social and economic. Through concerted efforts, it was able to achieve what was considered impossible. Such achievements would never have occurred but for the sincerity and devotion of those in charge, on the one hand, and the unlimited material and moral support, on the other, in addition to the patience and keenness of the Saudi citizen to acquire knowledge. The scientific upsurge was one of these achievements for it was a race against time. The Kingdom, in a very short period when measured against the progress of nations and people, achieved astounding results, even surpassing many countries with a long history in similar fields. The rise of modern education began when King Abdel Aziz, (may Allah have mercy on his soul),founded a strong young nation and, by his sharp thinking and insight, decided that it should catch up with the culture and civilisation of the age, in steady and balanced steps, harmoniously and within the framework of a comprehensive development movement together with religious, social and economic reform throughout the country ... the country to which Arabs and Muslims had looked and on which they had rested their hopes. The King, therefore, ordered that a department be established to take charge of all educational affairs in the country and to be responsible for founding schools and institutes, as well as promoting the cultural and scientific movement, in order to eradicate the three chronic social evils: disease, poverty and disunity. The Department of Education was established in 1344 H. (1926), to meet the increasing number of schools and the mounting interest in learning. The establishment of this department was synonymous with laying the foundation stone of the modern educational system in the Kingdom. Since education had spread in Hejaz before the other provinces in the Kingdom, and also because of the status of Mecca, as a prominent religious centre, not only at the level of the Arabian Peninsula but also at the level of the whole Islamic world. (Mecca) was chosen as the seat of the first Education Department. The educational movement proceeded with rapid strides in a race against time. Organised education - primary and secondary stages - spread quickly in many parts of the Kingdom. The Department of Education was attached to the Public Prosecutor's Office, with direct supervision over all primary and secondary schools, Shari'a colleges and teacher training colleges. It also sent students abroad on scholarship grants and thus provides the country with qualified and learned youth who would contribute to the building of the nation. With the growing responsibilities as a result of the increasing numbers of schools and institutes, together with the diversity of technical and administrative aspects, several major problems emerged, necessitating broader measures for remedy and responsibility. King Saud, may (Allah have mercy on his soul),the initiator of the modern educational upsurge, thought of establishing a Ministry of Education to cope with the various aspects of comprehensive development throughout the land. It would also be responsible for the education of the people, putting into profitable use their inherent capacities and potentialities for the benefit of the country. On 18 Rabi'ul Thani, 1373 H. (24 December 1954), King Saud issued Royal Decree( no. 5/3/26/9450), establishing the Ministry of Education which was entrusted to Prince Fahd Ibn Abdel Aziz King Saud was renowned for his determination and resolve to make of his country a busy hive of serious and dedicated work to meet the requirements of the country in terms of scientists, experts and specialists in all fields of science and knowledge. He opened schools, brought in experts and qualified teachers from Arab countries and founded teacher training schools. He gave particular attention to primary education since it constituted the vital base of the whole educational system. He also gave attention to both preparatory and secondary stages and sent students on scholarships to Arab countries, Europe and America to specialize in the various scientific disciplines of knowledge and to secure the highest academic diplomas and most advanced qualifications. King Saud, personally sponsored this upsurge and strongly supported it . Every effort was exerted and every assistance was extended in order to encourage people to learn. He even donated - as we shall see later - his large royal palaces in various parts of the country to be turned intoschools and institutes, as well as hospitals. Since finance constituted the backbone of all projects and public utili ties, the Government of King Saud did not ever hesitate to extend every possible assistance to enable the new Ministry of Education discharge its duties to the citizens of the cherished homeland..