Oil prices have fallen sharply since mid-2014, leading to significant revenue shortfalls in many energy exporting nations, and to shortfalls in government expenditures. Among a wide range of all government financed sectors, education is by no mean immune of the consequences of such conjecture, making it difficult for all education related academia and sponsoring government agencies to meet recurrent and capital projects expenditure.
If oil prices continue to fall further and / or stay unchanged, tumbling morale and expectations could pose major obstacles to a free and fair education sector. Two items of recent news as reported by the local press online grabbed our attention and are summarily described below.
International schools in Saudi Arabia have increasingly been noticed to be withdrawing their education from the country.
A recent post in Arabian Business of 22 November 2015 quoting an official talking to local media, underlined the fact that International Schools in Saudi Arabia have increasingly been withdrawing their education businesses from the kingdom. According to the official, it is mainly due to the rising operational costs and lack of investments.
The website reported that “The drop in the number of investors interested in the education sector has caused schools to take bank loans to pay rents and other operational expenses or to try to attract investors by investing in a more appealing school environment”, explained Mansour Al-Khunaizan, chairman of the National Committee for Private and International Education at the Council of Saudi Chambers.
Speaking to local media, he added that about 90 percent of international schools were facing financial ruin.
“The sector now faces some difficult prerequisites, such as obtaining the consent of neighbours when establishing a new school, while also ensuring that the building adjoins a commercial street and other requirements. It is better that schools be established within neighbourhoods to ward off any dangers to students. This is applicable worldwide,” he said.
Al-Khunaizan urged the government to “help maintain the interests of investors in education.”
Arab News of 25 November 2015 informs that high fees at private schools in the country might have forced more than 300,000 students of expatriate descent generally, to give up their education.
International schools have increased their fees by 20 to 30 percent this year. Most expat students are not allowed in free education state schools but only at private schools in Saudi Arabia as well as in most of the GCC countries.