The Saudi National Reading Curriculum: Global Issues

This study aimed at finding out whether the National reading curriculum for grades 7-12 in Saudi Arabia contains global themes, in which grade level those global themes are introduced, the percentage of global themes in each grade level, and which global themes are emphasized more than the others. A checklist consisting of four main global themes was developed. Those are (1) global systems such as cultural, political, economic, ecological, technological, social, educational and healthcare systems, international organizations and international law; (2) global issues such as peace and conflict resolution, refugees; (3) human values like tolerance and cooperation, and (4) global history such as ancient civilizations, history of world religions, the industrial revolution, colonization and liberation movements. A content analysis of the reading textbooks for grades 7-12 showed that Quranic verses and Prophet Mohammed’s traditions constitute 10%, 29% of the themes focus on Islamic history, 13% focus on general topics, 11% deal with classical Arabic literature, 8% focus on the history and geography of Saudi Arabia, 6% focus on scientific issues, 6% focus on fauna and flora, 4% focus on Arab and Islamic countries, 1% are devoted to Arab and international organizations such as UNESCO, and 1% of the topic deal with foreign figures (non-Arab) such as doctors and inventors. It was concluded that the Saudi national reading textbooks do not develop global awareness in Saudi junior and senior high school students. The study calls for a re-selection of reading themes and re-structuring and of the reading curriculum.

Prof. Reima Al-jarf
King Saud University
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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