The Future of Gifted Provision in Saudi Arabia in Light of the Current Datum
Ph.D. Research Proposal
ID / 25162136
Gifted education plays an important role in meeting the unique and often advanced needs of students gifted with exceptional abilities, competencies and talents (Borland, p. 9). Moreover, gifted education fills the gaps in the teaching and learning process that regular education appears inadequate to address. The development of gifted education is essential because it would provide opportunities for gifted students to hone their talents and competencies within a competitive and challenging learning environment (Smutny, 2003, p. 56). In Saudi Arabia, the development of gifted education began during the late 1990s when former Crown Prince and present King, His Majesty Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, launched the King Abdulaziz and his Companion Foundation for the Gifted (KAFCG). KAFCG is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for gifted students across Saudi Arabia to study in competitive learning environments suited to their academic level and talents, and consequently contribute to societal development in the future (Muammar, 2006, p. 308).
Aside from the establishment of the KAFCG, the government’s development of initiatives and plans to cultivate a knowledge society instigated the development of gifted education in the country further. In 2008, the government launched a strategic plan in education to cultivate talent, creativity and innovation, following advisories and expert opinion about the future of education and societal development. The strategic plan was created to support the transition of Saudi Arabia to a knowledge society, which diversity, capacities, growth, and modernity (Bontis, 2004, p. 13). Aside from the KAFCG, several organizations and institutions expressed their desire to support the government’s strategic plan to build a knowledge society, including the Ministry of Economics and Planning and the King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology. The aforementioned organizations or institutions not only pledged to support the implementation of the strategic plan financially but also to contribute to national development by providing information about recent trends, advisories, and recommendations gleaned through continuous research (MEP, 2013, p. 87). Conducting continuous research about gifted education is highly necessary to guide the development and implementation of gifted education duce a new generation of knowledge that leads to a promise nation (Subhi-Yamin, 2009).
Despite the initiatives and strategic plans of Saudi Arabia to build a knowledge society and to do so in the field of education by nurturing gifted education, existing literature about policy development and implementation in the country reveal that the process of executing policies is weak, and thus, ineffective in allowing the government to accomplish its goals. One of the primary issues that must be addressed is the ambiguity of the strategic plan, the government’s policy, and its implementation (Al-Qarni, 2010). Furthermore, Alnafa'a (2000) argued that the government’s strategic plan does not directly address and contribute to the development of gifted education in Saudi Arabia. The strategic plan aims to do so but in the actual implementation, the government failed to meet the requisites of working or operational gifted education. Several research studies obtained from existing literature also reveal that the government failed to develop comprehensive policies that would facilitate the enactment of the government’s strategic plan (Al kaldi, 2002; Ma'jiny, 1999). Al Qarni (2010) mentioned that Saudi Arabia’s provision for gifted students is inadequate because it does not constitute the holistic components and ideal elements of gifted education as described and defined in comprehensive scholarly literature about this field of education. Moreover, there is limited literature about gifted education in Saudi Arabia that would highlight the inadequacies, loopholes, and weaknesses of Saudi Arabia’s provision for gifted education (Al Qarni, 2010; Alqefari, 2010; Al Arfaj, 2011).
One of the primary concerns raised by scholars is the limitations of social and cultural contexts on the research process. The strict separation between male and female in all sectors in Saudi Arabia, for instance, limits researchers from conducting comprehensive studies about the efficiency of gifted education in the country (Algefari, 2010). For this reason, scholars and researchers conduct studies separately, which is both time consuming and expensive (al Qarni, 2010; Algefari, 2010). Nevertheless, despite the problems and issues concerning the research process, the aforementioned problems concerning the inadequacies of gifted education and policy implementation in the country underscores the importance of conducting research to identify other issues and develop solutions to improve the quality and reach of gifted education in Saudi Arabia.
The weakness of policy implementation in the provision of gifted education in Saudi Arabia offers a strong rationale and motivation for the research study. After reviewing existing literature and identifying all problem related to the implementation and development of gifted education, I decided to focus on this topic to develop my Ph.D. thesis. Aside from the importance of exploring gifted education, my academic background also makes me a credible candidate to work on the thesis. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Gifted Education from King Saud University and a Higher Diploma in Rehabilitation of the Gifted Education Graduates from Prince Norah bint Abdurrahman University. I also worked at the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia as a specialist in gifts and talents and designed enrichment programs for talented students. I also conducted assessment and evaluation among students to identify gifted students by using IQ and Creativity Scales such as the Binet Scales and Torance Scales. After working at the Ministry of Education, I sought opportunities to apply my knowledge in gifted education further. I then moved to the KAFCG (or Mawhiba) to supervise summer enrichment programs for gifted students. As a supervisor, I assumed various roles and responsibilities including planning, designing and evaluating the enrichment program that will be implemented nationwide. While working at KAFCH, I participated in various training programs that focused on the design of enrichment programs. The Johns Hopkins University in the United States organized one of the training programs I attended. Following this, I decided to help in the development of an initiative that would help young students transition as valuable members of society. I co-founded the Youth Leadership Initiative, an organization that aimed to develop a program for the undergraduate youth through which they can gain access to work opportunities in organizations that contribute to the development of Saudi Arabia’s knowledge society. Aside from participating in training programs, I also passed various courses specializing in the field of education and workshops that aim to help educators hone their knowledge and skills in teaching, research, and policy development. I also attended numerous educational conferences held locally and internationally, through which I acquired knowledge about giftedness, innovation, and leadership in the field of education. While working in different organizations, I worked on different research studies with the objective of contributing to the knowledge base of gifted education in Saudi Arabia. At the moment, I am pursuing Graduate Studies at Southampton University. In the previous year, I earned my Master’s Degree after working on a thesis that evaluated the efficiency of Gifted Provision in Saudi Arabia.
Overall, the research study aims to contribute to the knowledge base of gifted education in Saudi Arabia. The research will also fill in the gap in literature brought about by limitations in the research process. The information that will be gleaned through research would help decision- and policy-makers in the Ministry of Education and KAFCG improve its policies as well as the implementation and administration of policies and strategic plans that would affect the outcomes of gifted education. Moreover, the research would also highlight the importance of developing gifted education and implementing policies efficiently (Al Esawe, 2000).
Bontis, N. 2004, National intellectual capital index: a United Nations initiative for the Arab Region. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 5:1, 13-39.
Borland, J. H. 2003, Rethinking gifted education. Teachers College Press.
Muammar, O. M. 2006, “Saudi Arabia: key issues regarding the education of gifted students”, In Wallace & Eriksson’s Diversity in gifted education: international perspectives on global issues. New York, NY: Routledge.
Smutny, J. F. 2003, Gifted education: promising practices. Phi Delta Kappa International.