The Beginnings of Female Education

Royal Decree from King Saud in 1960 initiates the following :

"That female formal education will be accessible  to all girls around the country , and schools will be opened for them under the supervision of the (The General presidency for formal female Education) which will be headed by Sheikh Ibrahim Al Sheikh ,the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia ".

The promotion of formal education with a modernised, but Islamic syllabus, and at all levels, received a major boost during this period, with the introduction of modern schools and free education in all parts of the country.  The establishment of technical institutes, teachers training and religious colleges in major urban centres also received due attention. The budgetary allocation for it had been quadrupled forthwith.
Female education  has started in Hejaz  before the establishment  of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia , and  during King Saud reign  he encouraged it in Najd , by example than legislative force at this stage  with the establishment of  the first private school (Al kharimat) in Riyadh for his daughters and, other members of the family and whoever wished to join them from the public. It was Followed by opening (Mabarat Al Kharimat) for Girls by King Saud S' daughters. These two first female schools in Riyadh led to asking for more female schools by the people, which led to announcing a Royal Decree by King Saud in 1960, a full-fledged “Presidency” for female education which had been set up to establish formal schools for girls in all parts of the kingdom despite objections by some people in certain  parts of the country which king Saud stood firmly and courageously in front of it.

The roles played by women at an important historical stage in the Kingdom and under difficult circumstances have enhanced men's confidence in women, raised their status and increased their confidence in them. The role of women at the stage of King Abdulaziz's rule has been appropriate with the time period when the circumstances required a distinctive form of their supporting role. But as society evolved and security and stability emerged, the need for development and improvement demanded a different role of women's contribution to society and her standing with men to fulfil her role for development requiring a different model of a woman whose able to play that role. Therefore, the importance of education was highlighted to enable her to carry out her duties towards hher homeland. Education was limited to the teaching of Holy quran by blind scholars and giving the religious lessons, in addition to the religious gatherings that some women have set up in their homes to teach about religion.

The Kingdom's need for women's education was a necessity enforced by the country's rapid development conditions, but it was met with social rejection in certain regions of the Kingdom, particularly in Najd. To help society accept the idea of women's education at the time, Crown Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz, taught his daughters to set an example for others. So that parents can get their daughters into school and then to establish girls' schools. Princess Hassa bint Saud recalls that Prince Saud brought two teachers from Egypt in 1947 to teach his daughters the Holy Quran, one called Fatima Tawfiq and the other was Aida, and began to give lessons to his daughters Hessa, the eldest, Jawzaa, Felewa and Juheir bint Faisal bin Abdulrahman (Granddaughter of King Saud from his daughter Moody), Alanoud and Munairah bint Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Abdulrahman (granddaughters from Princess Noura bint Saud) at the Morbba Palace in Riyadh,Female teachers also taught schoolgirls about literacy, which angered Prince Saud when he discovered that his daughter Hessa had learned to write her name so the school was closed and the teachers were sent to Egypt. However, Princess Hessa bint Saud continued messaging them to be able to write and read and after a while and with the determination of his daughters in education Prince Saud re-opened the school to which more of his daughters joined in general (1951-1932 A.D.), and brought four teachers from Palestine who were Fedwa and Esmat Afifi, Amina al-Assali and Mufeedah. They were specialized  in Arabic, mathematics, English and social studies. This was the beginning of the Karimat Institute in Riyadh, which is the first girls' school in Najid region and the first to introduce secondary education in the Kingdom as the Hijaz area started schools at the primary level, including the Elementary School in 1940-1360 AH and the Khojah Hanim School in Taif, which was opened by Omar Saeb.

Prince Saud (Crown Prince) therefore began to fulfil his aspirations starting from his family members to encourage other parents to accept the idea of school for their daughters , and by sending female teachers to homes to show families  the importance of educating their daughters at school. His vision began to be applied gradually. This was with the transition of the school from Al-Morabba palace to the Sahara Hotel. So there were classes established in the modern  system and the number of students has increased and girls from the Royal family and from other families in Riyadh City started joining like Al-Dugheither daughters, Al-Saleh and Al-kurdi. In 1956, King Saud moved to his palace in Al-Nassiriya, where the first two model' schools were built, Al-Anjal School for boys, and Al-Karimat School for girls in the style of modern schools, which was joined by a large number of students. Thus, we see the success of this initiative of King Saud by teaching girls leadership, intelligence and courage, where he started with his daughters to raise awareness of show the importance of girls' education. King Saud desired Al-karimat School to be an internal school, but it was opposable by his daughter's mothers.

Another factor that helped encouraging parents to send their daughters was the fact that the school was inside the walls of the King's Palace and under his direct protection. The first director of the school was Ms. Rehab al-Hakim from Syria, followed by Ms. Alia al-Dajani from Jordan. She taught Jordanian curricula and then the curricula of the Ministry of Knowledge in all levels of general education from primary to secondary school. It remained the only Secondary school in the Kingdom until 1970.

Reference: Interview with Princess Hassa bint Saud during the 1999 Centennial Conference