by A Hamdan · 2005 · Cited by 576 — Islamic (Lacey, 1981) government in Iran strengthened Saudi Arabian religious leadership. In In its first year there were 15 young girls attending Dar Al. Hanan

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International Education Journal , 2005, 6(1), 42-64. ISSN 1443-1475 © 2005 Shannon Research Press . 42 Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements Amani Hamdan University of Western Ontario, Canada The historical socio-economic and political conditions of Saudi Arabia are an essential aspect of understanding a woman™s position in Saudi society. The persistence of women™s exclusion from public life in contemporary Saudi Arabia is one of the most heated debates not only among Muslims but also worldwide, as Saudi society comes under more and more scrutiny internationally. In 1980, there were more female graduates in the humanities than male. University women could study most of the same subjects as their male counterparts except those, which might lead to their mixing with men. This paper explores some of the restraints and achievements of women in the field of education in Saudi Arabia today. Illiteracy, literacy rate, women™s rights, education, Saudi Arabia, oil wealth INTRODUCTION Geographical and Cultural Context Saudi Arabia is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of approximately 19 million people. The country was established in 1932 by King AbdulAziz Ibn AbdulRahman Al Saud. The country covers about 900,000 square miles. Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion. Saudi Arabia has a literacy rate of about 62 per cent, which is the lowest literacy rate in the Gulf nations. In Saudi Arabia, female literacy is estimated to be at 50 per cent, and male literacy at 72 per cent (UNDP, 2003). According to the 1992 census, 4.6 million of Saudi Arabian residents were foreign workers. This explains why in Saudi Arabia women constitute seven per cent of the work force in 1990 and four per cent in 2003. However, the Saudi literacy rate in 1970, in comparison to the literacy rates in the Middle East and North Africa, was 15 per cent for men and two per cent for women. This rate was the lowest in these regions, with only Yemen and Afghanistan ranking lower. Thus, the steep rise in literacy rate by the 1990s, as shown above, must be seen as a considerable accomplishment in the time period. Additionally, recent statistics by the UNESCO show an estimate and projection for adult illiteracy for population aged 15 to 24 years for 2015 is 2.9 per cent for women and 2.7 for men, and the illiteracy rates for those 15 years and older in 2005 are expected to be 26.7 per cent for women and 14.2 per cent for men, and in the year 2015 are expected to be 17 per cent for women and 9.5 per cent for men (UNESCO, 2002). Many scholarly sources portray women™s education, since it started, as being highly valued in Saudi society (Zurbrigg, 1995, p.82). The Position of Women in Saudi Arabian Society In recent years, no sector of Saudi society has been subject to more debates and discussions than the women™s sector and their role in the development process. Moreover, issues regarding

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Hamdan 43 women™s rights and responsibilities in that development have been equally controversial among both conservatives and progressives in Saudi society. Before exploring women™s education in Saudi Arabia, it is important to review some of the political and social events that have contributed to Saudi women™s position in their society. In the past 50 years the Middle East region has endured some major challenges that have affected all Middle Eastern nations and particularly the gulf nations. Saudi Arabia, like other Gulf nations, both directly and indirectly, has experienced some major social upheavals. First and foremost, the discovery and production of oil 1 in 1930s was a major occurrence in the country. The oil-generated revenue in the early 1970s introduced large-scale changes, including the opening of education to both boys and girls. The economic upheaval arising from the increased income from oil gave rise to a trend towards education abroad, and a change in lifestyle, and these two changes affected the whole structure of society (Yamani, 1996, p.265). Oil and its resulting wealth had an unimaginable impact on Saudi Arabia in an extremely compressed period of time. The Iranian Shi™a revolution in January 1979 that overthrew the Shah and the newly established Islamic (Lacey, 1981) government in Iran strengthened Saudi Arabian religious leadership. In addition, the Mecca uprising on the 20th of November 1979 was inspired as many analysts allege, as a result of Khomeini™s example in Iran and the successful defeat of Iranian royals by religious clerics. Shortly after that the first Gulf War took place, which involved Iran and Iraq, and the second Gulf War in which Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Just recently, of course, the United States has waged war against Iraq. Each of the incidents mentioned has affected women and challenged Saudi society, a society that until then had experienced very little change in its policies toward women. The American presence in Saudi Arabia began with the production of oil in 1979 and the establishment of ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company) in Dhahran, a city on the east coast of Saudi Arabia where most American companies are located. American engineers and oil executives brought their families and built many companies and Western-style houses, schools and compounds. Foreign migrant labour accounted for 43 per cent of total workforce in oil companies in the mid 1970s (Yamani, 1996, p.265). American women were shopping, unveiled, in malls and driving cars, something Saudi women were forbidden to do. Saudi women soon began asking for some of the same rights as their American counterparts. Some discussions took place on a formal level. However, with the Mecca uprising of 1979 such discussions came to a halt. Saudi Arabia arrived in the 1980s with a more complex society, eager to enjoy the fruits of advancement on all social and economic levels. At the same time there was a determination to preserve the country™s religious and social traditions (Huyette, 1985). This balance between the two has been difficult to maintain, especially with regards to women™s professional space. Moreover, during and after the Gulf War of 1990 (or ‚Desert Storm™ as it was called in the United States) the American presence was highly visible in the Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh and on the east coast close to the Saudi-Kuwaiti borders with the participation of American troops in the war, American women in service were seen driving cars. Not only did Saudi women see American women driving military cars in Riyadh and Dammam; they also 1 The first important well discovered in 1983 and major production started shortly after World War II.

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44 Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements saw their Kuwaiti sisters who had fled their country enjoying a freedom denied to Saudi women themselves (that is driving cars). All three Wars affected the whole region in different aspects. Women™s schooling at all levels Œ elementary, secondary, high school and university Œ remained under the Department of Religious Guidance until 2002, while the education of boys 2 was overseen by the Ministry of Education. This was to ensure that women™s education did not deviate from the original purpose of female education, which was to make women good wives and mothers, and to prepare them for ‚acceptable™ jobs such as teaching and nursing that were believed to suit their nature 3. The General Presidency for Girls™ Education, which has not enjoyed the same prestige as the Ministry of Education, was heavily influenced by religious conservative scholars. The historian, Lacey, who spent four years living in Saudi Arabia researching the story of the Saudi Kingdom concluded, fireform in Saudi Arabia had never been a simple matter, [and will never be given the religious mentality of people]fl (1981, p.363). In 2002, the General Presidency for Girls™ Education and the Ministry of Education were amalgamated as a result of requests from both the general public and the government after a fire in March 2002 in an elementary girls™ school in Mecca resulted in the death of 15 young girls. The Saudi press reported that the presence of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, or religious police, in that incident contributed to the high number of deaths among the girls. The press, who witnessed the fire, maintained that the religious police discouraged the firemen from entering the girls™ school, stating that since both the girls and their teachers may not be wearing their hijab [headscarf] it would be sinful to approach them. The issue was widely discussed in the Saudi press and also covered by the foreign press. fiThis caused a widespread public outcry and prompted a debate about the religious police role in such casesfl (Prokop, 2003, p.78). This incident raises many questions not only about the responsibilities of the religious police but also about the General Presidency of Girls™ Education. In fact, public dissatisfaction with the General Presidency for Girls™ Education had been evident before the fire when women™s education had been granted a lower budget than that of their male counterparts. The number of girls™ schools housed in old, and therefore unsafe rented buildings were on the rise. The resulting amalgamation provoked a revolt among religious conservative scholars who approved of women™s education only under the direction of ulama4 (conservative religious scholars). This paper analyses Saudi women™s education since its beginnings in the 1960s. The objective of the paper is three-fold: first, to highlight the current status of women in Saudi society in general and, in education, in particular; second, to differentiate Islamic teachings from the literal and narrow interpretations of Quranic text that cause tensions around women™s education 2 Boys schooling was also a challenge in that Crown Prince Faisal, at that time, and his wife Iffat had to introduce the boys school in a courageous and slow manner. The couple located the school in the city of Taif to avoid disturbance (Lacey, 1981). 3 Many Saudi women and men consider women™s nature to be different from that of men; therefore, they are not allowed to work in the same jobs as men. That is why only certain jobs (i.e., teaching and nursing as opposed to engineering) are open to women. The notion that women are only able to work in segregated spheres where they cannot be seen by strange men is still dominant. 4 Ulama , some resources refer to religious conservatives scholars by calling them ulama . Conservative religious scholars are those who believe in one interpretation of Quran. However, the word Ulama is the plural for alim, derived from the world ilm, which means knowledge. Ulama refer to a group of people (usually men) who are scholars in religious knowledge and thus can be said about conservatives and progressive interpreters.

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Hamdan 45 in Saudi society; third, to stress the progress achieved so far in women™s education as well and to explore the changes in women™s education that will be vital to the economic survival of the country in years to come. In including the foregoing I am not talking about the sexism women face; as Smith (1987) states, fiwe are not talking about prejudice or sexism as particular bias against women or a negative stereotype of women. We are talking about the consequence of women™s exclusion from a full share in the making of what becomes treated as our culturefl (Smith, 1987, p.20). This paper is not about stressing the patriarchal nature of Arab society in general and Saudi society in particular; rather, it is about explaining the consequence of excluding women from public life and constraining their educational choices. Women™s issues in Saudi society are often mistakenly connected to Islamic teachings. Unlike liberal feminists who do not consider the inequities of class, race, ethnicity, and disability, and unlike Marxist feminists who see the disappearance of gender inequality as contingent upon replacing capitalism with Marxism, I consider women™s issues from a different standpoint (Elliot & Mandell, 1998). Women™ issues in Saudi society and the gender inequalities that are obvious in its education system are institutionalised and difficult to dislodge through individual action. Women™s inequality is traditionally structured in the society. fiThe rational for a need to focus on women™s achievements in higher education is considered a key social development indicator measuring women™s statues and conditions in any countryfl (Rashti, 2003, p.2). This suggests that Saudi women devise their own strategies to challenge gender inequality and achieve social justice not only in education but in all life matters, especially given the complexity of women™s issues and concerns in what is so called fiThird Worldfl Islamic patriarchal societies. The uniqueness of Saudi women™s situation is derived from their presence and yet non-presence in the public sphere. For instance, Smith, a Western feminist, suggests that gender inequality appeared to be rooted in women™s traditional absence and silencing in public life. There is a similar case with Saudi women. As Doumato states fi–girls were taught enough to buy into an assigned role, a role in which they were subordinate to men, but not enough to challenge itfl (2000, p.93). This comes from the normalisation of gender differences in the curriculum content at all school ages for both boys and girls. Gender ideologies that can be attributed to traditional and socio-economic values gained legal force in Saudi society by being associated with Islamic teaching. Until recently in 2001, Saudi women were considered an extension of their male guardians. A woman™s identity first appears in relation to her father™s family™s identity card. Later, if she marries, she will be added to her husband™s card or, in the case of her father™s death, to that of her nearest male kin. In Saudi society in general, it is believed that the role of women was basic to maintaining the structure of the family and therefore of society (Alireza, 1987). The deeply embedded and complex nature of gender inequality in Saudi society should be taken into account. Additionally, the practice of seclusion of Arab Muslim women is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Historically, Muslim Arab women participated in all aspects of life politically, socially, and economically, as is briefly discussed in the section on women™s education. Having grown up in Saudi society, it is clear that women™s training and education fiensure that at every level of competence and leadership there will be a place for them that is inferior and subordinate to the positions of menfl (Smith, 1987, p.34). This is what™s called figlass ceilingfl and it pertains to many Arab Muslim societies as well as some Western societies. Women do

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46 Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements not have power in any position and are subordinate in both the private and the public sector to male individuals who may often have inferior qualifications to their female counterparts. In Saudi society fiwomen need to learn to relate to one another and treat each other as sources of knowledgefl (Smith, 1987, p.35). Since Saudi women, as all women in any given society, differ in their class, race, and cultural background for them to challenge gender inequalities there is an urgent need to cross borders and ignore their cultural and class differences. These women unite and collaborate with each other to overcome male dominance in their society. The use and the acceptance of only a sole religious interpretation of Quran (extremism 5 or fundamentalism), to promote the authority of men is a pressing issue. In the conservative religious scholars views women are often considered to be irrational and incomplete beings. As Smith (1987) suggests, men were provided with a licence to exclude women™s voices in Western society. In some cases Islamic and religious texts are being interpreted literally, which provide some conservative religious scholars to silence women™s voices in the name of Islam. However, recently religious ideology has become a tool for Saudi Muslim women who are learning how to study Islamic ideology in depth and to apply it to women™s issues 6. Women are learning to use the so-called, ‚legitimate language™, religious language, a language that cannot be challenged by their male peers to attain their goals. Saudi women are also directed towards studying Islamic law and Shar™ia so they can speak in the name of Islam. This is a powerful way to confront the status quo. THE SOCIAL STATUS OF WOMEN IN SAUDI ARABIA A study of women and education in Saudi Arabia must take into account social and political events in recent years: Saudi Arabia was formally proclaimed a country only 70 years ago. Since that proclamation, many unique changes have taken place (Yamani, 1996, p.265). In 1979, a Muslim extremist who was a former theology student led an attempt to seize the holy mosque in Mecca. He was attempting to officially put an end to what he called fiWestern influencefl in the country. In 1978, a year before the siege, newspapers and magazines were publishing articles written by both men and women discussing women™s rights to participate in public life. Issues such as women™s right to drive, where women could and should work, and the types of education appropriate for women were all hot topics (Doumato, 2000). However, discussions around increasing women™s freedom and mobility through education and work were perceived from the very beginning by the religious groups as dangerous fiWestern ideasfl (Arebi, 1994, p.17). Many political analysts have opined that the Mecca siege was fuelled by the government stance on women™s rights and role in the development of the Saudi nation. In 1979, fiWestern influences,fl as some conservative religious scholars argued were more obvious since women 5 A claim can be made to differentiate between extremists and fundamentalists that is based on the meaning of the two concepts (Alghamdi, 2002). The Fundamental of some thing is the basics of it; however, saying that may imply that Islamic fundamentalists are those who are the most knowledgeable of Islamic teachings. Whereas an extremist, as defined in the Longman™s dictionary, is someone who has extreme political opinions and aims and willing to do unusual or illegal things to achieve them. Thus, Islamic extremists are those who are regarded in Islam as ‚heretics™ because of their excessive piousness. Those who violate the principles of Islam, a religion of peace, are considered extremists (Kuroda, 2001). 6 Some Muslim women for instance, Riffat Hassan and Ali Shaheen were able to challenge interpretations that excluded women.

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Hamdan 47 not only went to school but also started to enter universities. However, some historians argued that Mecca siege was not all about women™s freedom; it had a great deal to do with asserting the extremists™ views on all aspects of life. Nevertheless, women issues became the focus in any discussion about progress. A woman™s right to participate fully in the development of the nation was forbidden. In addition, after that television stations were prohibited from broadcasting images of unveiled women. Women were also banned from conducting their own businesses without a male representative, preferably a family member 7. Nonetheless, a recent survey shows that approximately 16,390 businesses are owned by women and women own 40 per cent of the nation™s private wealth. However, these women were not, until recently, allowed to deal with that money unless through a male relative representative. According to Saddeka Arebi, in Islamic history, a fifteen-centuries-old tradition shows many examples of independent Arab female entrepreneur 8. These events significantly shaped the women™s movement in Saudi Arabia for the next 20 years. Universities and colleges for women continued to be built throughout the nation. However, conservative religious scholars continued to pressure society to bend to their requests, especially those related to women. The general public also indicated that a Saudi woman™s place is in her home. The percentage of women working outside the home, according to the 1999 census, is five per cent and these women are in the teaching and health sectors (Shukri, 1999, p.28). As a result, Saudi women continually encounter limitations and restrictions at both educational and professional levels. Few women are recently 9 gaining access to pursue professions other than teaching and medicine. Additionally, only recently has women™s segregation been discussed publicly. THE STRUGGLE FOR WOMEN™S EDUCATION: AN ONGOING BATTLE The advent of formal public schooling in Saudi Arabia dates to the 1960s, when the first official primary school for girls opened its doors in Riyadh (AlMunajjed, 1997). Prior to this, informal schooling took place for both boys and girls, the aim of which was to teach religious rituals. The goal of education was to learn the Quran, the Hadith [Prophet narrations], and Sunna [Prophet Mohammad™s customary behaviour and opinion on various issues drawn from the Hadith], to know how to pray and to follow the rules of behaviour of the Muslim community. These tasks required memorisation but not necessarily reading (Doumato, 2000). This is why many illiterate men and women can read the Quran. Thus, education of both sexes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia first took place in the Kuttab, a class of Quran recitation for children, which was usually attached to the local mosque. The teaching of girls also took place in private tutorials, which occurred in the homes of professional male or female Quran readers. Education for girls stopped at puberty, fiwhen strict seclusion at home began and veiling in public became mandatoryfl (Altorki, 1986, p.19). However, the first founder™s opinion of women™s education was encouraging. Abdul Aziz, the founder of the Saudi Kingdom, expressed his support for women™s education. In a conversation with St. John Philby, a British explorer who converted to 7 This edict was still in force until recently. 8 Khadija, the first of the Prophet Mohammad™s wives, was an independent entrepreneur who also proposed to her male worker, none other than Mohammad himself. She continued her business after she married him (Arebi, 1994, p.17). 9 In the past two years

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Hamdan 49 Faisal managed to convince tribal bedouins of the importance of formal schooling for women (Huyette, 1985, p.74). It was Iffat Al Thunayan, King Faisal™s wife, who pushed enthusiastically for the education of women in Saudi Arabia. She transformed her wish that women be allowed to pursue science, language, and other subjects into a reality. Saudi Arabia was the last country in the Gulf nations to introduce secular education. Iffat established the first girls™ school in 1956. In his book The Kingdom Lacey reported, fisuch circuitous manoeuvrings were not devised solely to sidestep the opposition of the religious sheikhs. Dragging Saudi Arabia society into the twentieth century alarmed ordinary people as wellfl (Lacey, 1981, p.364). The prospect of Saudi girls travelling through the public streets every day to attend school aroused alarm in the extremely conservative Saudi society. Yet, Faisal and Iffat were so committed to educating girls that they planned for the first women™s academy located in Jeddah, the first of its kind in the country. The academy was named, Dar Al Hanan , fiThe House of the Affection.fl Faisal and Iffat suggested its name as an inspiration coming from the Quran commandment to care for girls (Lacey, 1981). Since King Faisal took into consideration the economic realities of the people, prior to the oil boom, government granted education in Saudi Arabia is free at all levels, though not compulsory (Boudy, 1999, p.19). In 1957, the local press got a green light from officials and King Faisal to explain the objectives of Dar Al Hanan . One of the main aims of the school is to raise good mothers based on Islamic essence and modern educational theories. Iffat argued with many conservative religious scholars saying that the place where a child learns religion and manners is in the home, therefore the spirituality of future generations would be improved through mothers who had received schooling and education. In 1960 a national committee consisting of members of the conservative religious scholars insisted on controlling and supervising the education of girls throughout the country. In response Iffat, who had planned ahead, established the first girls™ college in Riyadh called Kulliyyat Al Banat , or the Girls™ College. Additionally, as part of her educational efforts, Iffat established what is called Al Nahdah AlSaudiayh , a Saudi progressive association that provides free classes in Riyadh for illiterate women, classes on hygiene and childcare, and courses on foreign languages and typing. All classes are funded and run by members of the movement. Al Nahdah has provided Saudi women with opportunities to participate in their society and to fulfil their role outside their homes as independent identities. Though King Faisal supported women™s right to achieve their goals, he was not able to convince his public at the beginning. When he sent the official force to Buraydah in 1963 to keep the girls™ school open, he did not force the parents to take their daughters to school, though he ruled that girls™ schooling be mandatory and obligatory, a ruling that continues to the present time. Fatina™s interview with the King indicated that for Faisal, tradition should be made allies of development. He rejected the idea that in order to modernise Saudi Arabia its past would have to be erased, and he believed that slow and steady change was better than violent, disruptive attempts to force change. King Faisal obviously understood the background and the traditional thinking of his people. At the same time he saw a need to enlighten his people™s understanding of Islamic teachings regarding women™s education. Whenever King Faisal faced resistance he would ask, fiIs there anything in the Holy Quran which forbids the education of women?fl He further stated, fiWe have no cause for argument, God enjoins learning on every Muslim man and womenfl (Lacey, 1981, p.368). The conservative religious scholars have approved the education of girls only with certain conditions and constraints. Girls™ schools are surrounded by high walls and backup screens

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50 Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements behind the entry area doors. Each girls™ school, college or university is assigned at least two men who are usually in their 50s or 60s who are responsible to check the identity of those who enter the school, deliver and pick up the mail and generally to safeguard the girls inside the school until they are picked up by their fathers or brothers. To date Physical Education and fitness facilities are not available for women. School buses for women have not escaped the rigid rules. Since women are not allowed to drive, the buses are driven by elderly men. Girls enter the bus from the back door and are usually supervised by a female relative of the driver. Indeed, the opening of official schools for girls met with fervent opposition. Non-religious education of girls was considered useless and even, according to certain conservative religious scholars, dangerous. However, the public took a generally favorable position toward the enrolment of girls in school. By 1981 the number of girls enrolled in schools was almost equal to the number of boys. The administration of girls™ education was controlled by the Directorate General of Girls™ Education, an organisation staffed by conservative religious scholars 2002. The purpose of educating a girl, as stated by the Directorate General, was fito bring her up in a proper Islamic way so as to perform her duty in life, be an ideal and successful housewife and a good mother, ready to do things which suit her nature as teaching, nursing, and medical treatmentfl (Alireza, 1987). But this changed to some degree after the fire at the girls™ school in Mecca. The religious police, as some call them, are recently given less control. Many of their rights and responsibilities, so long ago taken for granted, have been reconsidered. In fact they have been officially forbidden to interfere in the work of police or firemen. The interference was subject to criticism in some newspaper with regards to their obstruction during the elementary school fire in Mecca where 15 girls perished when religious police refused to allow firemen to enter the school because girls and women may not be wearing their veil (Al-Sari, 2003). Historically, progress in Saudi society is rarely smooth or effortless for various reasons. Some religious conservative in charge of girls™ education, insisted that the time Iffat wanted to be devoted to teaching girls science, language and liberal arts should be instead dedicated to teaching religious subjects. Iffat succeeded in getting over a quarter of a million women enrolled in Saudi schools and colleges by the end of 1970 (Lacey, 1981). Iffat™s contribution to women™s education in Saudi Arabia is particularly significant in as much as she has always insisted that her beliefs on women™s education are derived from the Quran and the Hadith. Iffat has repeatedly quoted Quranic verses that state that women and men alike should attain knowledge. In interviews conducted by Lacey, Iffat maintained that God would judge women as he would judge men, with no preferences for either sex. Men and women, said Iffat, were equal in the eyes of God. King Faisal supported his wife, maintaining that Saudi Arabia™s future included equal education for men and women. According to the Saudi anthropologists Altorki 13, the first girls to go to school in Saudi were from families that lived abroad. In its first year there were 15 young girls attending Dar Al Hanan. Ever so slowly the idea of educating girls began to attract certain prominent Hijazi families of Mecca and Medinah 14, especially those who appreciated King Faisal and Iffat™s 13 The first generation of Saudi women to obtain PhDs in 1973 from the University of Berkeley in California, are now teaching at the American University in Cairo. 14The two cities closest to Jeddah where the next girls™ schools to be established.

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Hamdan 51 educational plans for girls. The largest infrastructure of the Arab world was built around the 1960s. The hiring of teachers from different Arab countries made education possible for Saudi society in a very short period of time (AlMunajjed, 1997, p.80). Moreover, in its early stages the disparity in educational achievements between females ran along class lines slightly more than was the case for boys. The first women to get a PhD or advanced degree from Europe or the United States were of a high status. Initially only high-class women had opportunities to be educated. Although occurrences at the political and social level have had a great impact on women™s progress in Saudi society, they have not prevented women from pursuing education. In fact, many families sent their children to private interior schools in Egypt and Lebanon, and more recently Jordan and Syria, for formal schooling prior to its introduction in Saudi Arabia (Arebi, 1994). Many upper class families, who refused to wait until Saudi universities opened their doors to women sent their daughters to study abroad. Today many still send their daughters to study abroad when the fields in which they wish to specialise (that is, journalism, engineering and aviation) are closed to them at Saudi schools. Since women™s education in Saudi Arabia officially began, educational levels have increased rapidly. The number of women™s institutions has grown from 15 in the 1960s to 155 in the 1970s (Al Mohsen, 2000). Al Mohsen points out that women™s education started with arts and education; all other fields were available only to men. 1986 statistics show that in 1970 the total number of girls in elementary schools was 246,559. That number had increased to 649,509 according to the 1989 UNESCO statistics. In secondary schools 185,902 girls graduated in 1982 and in the year 1986 the number had increased to 255,766. The first girls™ college was established in 1970 in Riyadh and admitted those with secondary level schooling. Approximately 10 similar colleges with the same requirements opened by the 1980s. Subjects included the arts, education, general science and sciences such as biology, mathematics, religion, Arabic, geography, history, English, psychology and home economics. Library sciences were exclusively offered at Riyadh™s college (Al Malik, 1987). The first university that has a women™s campus was Riyadh™s King Saud University, which opened in 1979. Subject areas included Arabic, English, history and geography. In the 1980s women™s campuses at King Saud University added colleges for public administration, medicine, dentistry, nursing, and education. The Jeddah campus of the University of King Abdulaziz, admitted women to economics in 1967, and the Dammam City campus of the King Faisal University in 1978 opened a centre for women which included colleges of medicine, nursing, agriculture, nutrition, home economics and education. King Saud University in Riyadh has two campuses one in Al-Qaseem (a city 400 kilometres from Riyadh) and a second one Al-Joof, a city on the northern part of the country. King AbdulAziz University has branch campuses in Madinah 15 with women and men™s campuses offering mathematics, biology, medicine, computer sciences, and humanities. The College of Interior Design of Architecture followed in 1982 (GPWE, 1990). In 1975 Saudi women were allowed to enter medicine, and the first admission of women to the Faculty of Dentistry occurred in 1980 (Jawad, 1998, p.28). In all universities women have attended segregated campuses, and subjects were more limited than those for men. 15The second holy city after Mecca.

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