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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 105

Saudi-Swedish seal the dea8 l to open chain of private schools

By Seyed Moulana from Riyadh
Jeddah, 28 November, (Asiantribune.com):

A Saudi financial advisory firm has stepped into the void of high-quality schools in the Kingdom by signing a joint venture and exclusive license agreement with a Swedish international schools operator.

The Jeddah-based firm, Saudi Portfolio Securities (SPS), signed the agreement, which covers the establishment of a chain of private K-12 schools in the Kingdom, on Thursday with Kunskapsskolan Education Sweden after two years of negotiations.

The first school is scheduled to open in Jeddah in September 2015 for the academic year 2015-2016.

According to SPS Chairman Walid Attieh, Saudi Arabia currently experiences a "mismatch between supply and demand" and "parents are willing to pay more for high-quality education."

He said one of the problems is that private schools are usually managed by local investors and not big companies with international experience.

In Kunskapsskolan, he continued, they had found "a 'Glocal' partner: a reliable and successful partner, with global experience and a shared vision of creating education opportunities combining high international standards with an adaptation to the local culture, in order to form students deeply rooted in their culture and able to compete and succeed internationally."

Kunskapsskolan’s personalized education program, or KED Program, is currently implemented at some 50 schools in Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and India, with a total of about 15,000 students.

Peje Emilsson, founder and chairman of Kunskapsskolan Education, said: "It was amazing to see the enormous demand for education. I truly believe in a global society, but this should be achieved with lots of respect for local traditions."

Following the signing ceremony, SPS board member Mohammed N. Joukhdar said his company was currently building a 40,000-sq. meter campus in Jeddah that will accommodate 2,400 boy and girl students, after which it will build other campuses in Riyadh and Dammam.

Concerning the curriculum, Joukhdar said it would comply with the local regulations and include a strong focus on Islamic studies and the Arabic language.

"We would not spend as much time (on these subjects) as the traditional Saudi curriculum. It will be much less, but yet we will give it the right attention, so that a student, when he graduates after 12 years, he is fluent in Arabic and familiar with his culture and religion."

He added that the curriculum would be flexible, depending on the destination the student wants to go to and decided during the last two school years.

"If it is convenient for him to have an American high school diploma, that is his choice,” he said, adding that before that it would be a general curriculum that will address the needs of the students rather than following a curriculum from one particular country.

Joukhdar said the teachers, who would be receiving extensive training prior to the opening of the school, would be coming from the Arab world.

“We are now recruiting [bilingual] Saudi girls that are studying abroad,” while also hiring teachers from India, the UK, the US, and other English-speaking countries.

He said the philosophy of the school would be “continuous improvement and adaptation” and the students are “the core of their [Kunskapsskolan Education’s] attention”, adding that they are “equal, but not the same.”

A particular characteristic is that students will follow flexible steps rather than fixed classes."If you’re good at mathematics you will go on a faster track, so that when you go to a class, you are with your peers; but if you are lacking, we will give you more attention in a group that is at your level."

- Asian Tribune –

Peje Emilsson, founder and chairman of Kunskapsskolan Education Sweden, and Samir Mannai, CEO of Saudi Portfolio Securities, sign the joint venture and exclusive license agreement in Jeddah.
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