Academic journal article Researchers World

Private vs. Public School Education as a Predictor for Success for Female Students at a Private University in Saudi Arabia

Academic journal article Researchers World

Private vs. Public School Education as a Predictor for Success for Female Students at a Private University in Saudi Arabia

Article excerpt


This article analyzes the academic performance of the first graduating class (178 females) from a private university in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which arecategorized according to school type (private or public school education). The study specifically compares the academic achievements of the students at admission and later at graduation in correlation with school description. The analysis of the admission distribution revealed that 63% of the direct undergraduate admission students graduated from private secondary schools, and they substantially outperformed the public school graduates in the preparatory level only. While the analysis of the CGPA at graduation, 4-5 years later, showed that once the English language skills were learned, the public school students quickly bridged the gap and even surpassed their private school peers. The final outcomes provide a new path for research in the area of school type vs. prolonged academic achievement and suggest that public education can prepare students for academic success.

Keywords: School Types, Private, Public, Saudi Arabia, Preparatory Program, Female Students.


For decades, in many countries, academic school 'type,' private or public, as a predictor of or factor in future academic success has been researched and debated (Lubienski & Lubienski, 2006; Peterson & Laudet, 2006; Somers, 2001; and many more). It is a dilemma for governments, communities, organizations, and parents alike. Private education is often associated with higher tuition and consequently a higher socioeconomic status, a perceived 'better' peer group, and more flexible curriculum and school guidelines. Public or sometimes referred to as 'government' education is often considered the education of the masses, more aligned with cultural identity and norms in many countries including Saudi Arabia and more consistent.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, education begins formally at the age of 6 or Grade 1, public or private. Saudi schools are overseen by the Ministry of Education (international schools for the estimated 6-8 million expatriates often follow different regulations) and are gender segregated at all levels including higher education.Girls' education began in 1960 (Tracy, 2002; Arebi, 1994) and has gone through tremendous growth and change. The literacy rate for girls compared to boys aged 15-24 was 98.6% in 2010 as compared to 85.9% in 1990 as one the Kingdom's Millennium Development Goals (UN Development Program, 2012). Nearly 51% of the students enrolled in and graduated from institutions of higher education in the Kingdom are women.

Although little research has been done on public (referred to as government) and private education as a predictor of success in Saudi Arabia, the obvious main reasons for sending children to private schools in the Kingdom are more flexible 'school' curricula, enhanced learning environment academically, socially, and technologically, and the earlier introduction of the English language. The English language is introduced as a foreign language in public schools in the 6th grade (although the Ministry of Education has introduced the language in 4thgrade in an expanding educational project). In private schools, English is introduced from the Kindergarten level, which allows English to be acquired more naturally and fluently. Government education is free for all Saudis with the government expending a large portion of the country's budget (about 1/5) on education; HRH King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has strongly promoted education and life skills through the Project for General Education Development (Al-Seghayer, 2011). Private schools have tuition scales that vary based on curriculum, facility, location, and services, both academic and extracurricular. All Saudi schools, whether public or private, are required to implement the government curriculum and are led by Saudi principals. The private schools (usually owned by an individual or group of individuals) then often add their own curriculum and teach in parallel with the required government curriculum. …

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