Saudi education sector takes anti-terror stance

Several private and public universities have fired a number of its faculty members

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Schools and universities in the Kingdom have assigned specialized committees to scan the background of all religious and historical studies faculty members before hiring them, Al-Hayat daily reported.

Several private and public universities have fired a number of its faculty members who were proven to belong to an extreme group or support one.


Some schools and universities have stopped hiring foreign teachers of Islamic Studies and replaced them with Saudis. Many have questioned the bias in selecting Islamic Studies teachers but experts say it is the result of Saudization and the fact that there is a profuse number of Saudis in the field of Islamic Studies.

“Anti-terrorism regulations apply to all nationalities. An example of a tragic ending for a teacher is Eman Al-Bugha who was a Syrian teacher at the University of Dammam. She quit her job to join the ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] group,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

The head of the National Committee for International Education at the Chambers of Commerce, Mansour Saleh, said:

“There are no problems in issuing visas for Islamic Studies teachers from abroad. It just so happens that we don’t need any with the surplus of local Islamic Studies graduates. Even private and international schools are hiring Saudis.”

Several principals of different schools reported that hiring Saudis for Islamic Studies teaching jobs is not a regulation set by the Ministry of Education.

“We give priority to Saudis of both gender and if they meet the qualifications then we hire them,” said one principal.

Umm Al-Qura University faculty member Ihsan Al-Mutaz said most teachers of Islamic Studies are Saudis but non-Saudi teachers also teach the subject.

“There are non-Saudi teachers but it depends on the qualifications presented not the nationality. As for intellectual security, there is a special committee that conducts interviews with foreign applicants in their home country and scans their resumes.

“We follow all security measures and ensure that the people we hire are not associated with any terrorist associations,” said Al-Mutaz.

Intellectual security expert Abdulaziz Al-Saeed said Islamic Studies in schools and universities is being taught as it has always been. “Nothing drastic has changed in the curricula. Universities are very careful about the content they teach. They always ensure that moderation in religion is taught and not extremism. The education sector understands that bringing in a qualified teacher is a much more important job than bringing in a qualified doctor,” said Al-Saeed.

This story was originally posted on the Saudi Gazette on Dec. 17, 2014.

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