CITIZENSHIP FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Applied Research Project
Developing countries of the world today are facing unprecedented challenges in attaining sustainable development. Many developing countries are plagued by issues such as poverty, population growth, terrorism, dearth of qualified teaching staff, and territorial conflicts. To find a solution to this, many economists have devised various strategies both at the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels. Many people around the world will tell you that fossil fuel is Saudi Arabia’s greatest natural resource, but they are wrong because the children are the greatest resource. An excellent education of Saudi Arabian children is the key to the future stability and economic development of the country. Experts suggest that enhancing the student learning process during early ages can increase the dynamism of the economy. The Ten-year Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Education undertaken from 2004 to 2014 and the Ninth Development Plan from 2010 to 2014 demonstrates the government’s seriousness about the issue (UNESCO-IBE 2010/11). Contemporary teachers as well as education research in Saudi Arabia focus on topics such as improving critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, integration of ICT, and becoming a civically involved citizen (Lickona 2004; Alghamdi and Al-Salouli 2012; Aloqaili 2012; Alwadai 2014). To be competitive, emerging markets need to develop their learning capacities.
In addition to good facilities good habits need to be developed through education (Lickona 2004). Among them are those relevant for the strengthening of social and civic institutions. Lickona (2004) suggests teaching lessons and character simultaneously (2004). In a retrospective of schools teaching character, Lickona (2004) observed that the programmes are well-accepted by elementary age students and the students learn the lessons well.
Lin and Paz Sepulveda (2013) argue that developing countries need to close the knowledge gap that exists between them and the developed nations to achieve meaningful progress. They state that a country can enhance its learning capacities if it learns how to learn. International organizations like the United Nations (UN) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have toiled hard to ensure the development of good early learning facilities in developing nations. They view development of early learning as a part of a larger policy discourse on developing human capital. Saudi Arabia is considered a developing country, because since the formation of the Kingdom Saudi Arabia (KSA) foreigners were been brought in to handle the oil industry; Saudi Arabia needs a workforce that can handle all the jobs a stable, thriving country must have from policy making to the desalination of water or processing of fossil fuel (UNDP 2013). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the IMF and the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS) all encourage governments to support the infrastructure necessary for high quality of early learning as an essential component of the millennium development goals and increasing human capital (UNESCO-IBE 2010/11; UNDP 2010; ABEGS 2010). The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report: 2013 shows a high literacy rate in Saudi Arabia; citizens 15 years old and older showed a literacy rate of 87.4 percent with the adult male literacy rate at 91 percent and the female literacy rate at 82.6 percent the World Health Organization (WHO) (2013). In addition to good facilities where children can learn, good habits can be developed through education so that children learn to become responsible for their own learning and be taught how social and civic institutions work (Lickona 2004). Among them are those relevant for the strengthening of social and civic institutions.
I propose to design and implement a series of randomized framed field experiments aimed at testing the effectiveness of a set of modifications to the National Citizen Curriculum (NCC) in Saudi Arabia for 4th – 6th graders. The goal is to improve the learning of certain virtues among the youth relevant for living social and civic responsibility. The influence of teaching virtues on learning can be measured (Lickona 2004). The pilot experiments will be run in four elementary schools in Jeddda, Saudi Arabia.
2. Research Framework
Saudi Arabia is the biggest economy in the Middle East and is the largest producer of crude oil in the world. Though economic growth of the country has been stable over the years, experts have stressed on the need to increase its expenditure on infrastructure and productive capacity rather than solely on oil investment (Joharji and Starr 2010). Joharji and Starr (2010) make the point that indicate that increasing government spending can contribute to the steady growth of Saudi Arabia because of the positive influences for human capital. Human capital refers to the spending on health and education (Baffes and Shah 1998).
Saudi Arabian government has specific objectives for the education of the country’s children.
Preparation to become practical and functioning community builders.
Economic and cultural development of society
Provide students with knowledge of diverse topics and teach them the expertise and skills needed to provide a quality lifestyle for themselves and their families.
Teach them the Islamic creed.
Ensure that students are taught Islam properly and comprehensively.
Ensure that students understand the lessons and principles of Islam.
The new Saudi Arabian approach towards education is consistent with the Neo-Classical Model of Growth developed by Solow with the difference that it has been expanded to include human and social capital (Riley 2014). The Solow Growth Model shows how investments countries make in capital investment only improve the economic growth rate temporarily (Riley 2014). Investments to increase the labor supply and increasing labor and capital producing according to the Neo-Classical Model of Growth (Riley 2014). Developing habits among youth that strengthen human and social capital through civic programs constitute an intervention that fits within the Solow Model of Growth. Solow’s model is a predictive model that calculated the component, competitive general equilibrium growth. The three main equations used are described below (Solow 1995).
Constant-returns to Capital and Labor using diminishing returns and smooth substitution to Capital and Labor
Capital Accumulation assuming constant rate of Savings meaning the fraction of output of Investment
An exogenous (externally caused) growth in the labor pool is incorporated into the labor-supply function
The proposed evaluation design is based on these premises and will center on educational programs for primary schools. The strengthening of human and social capital is exactly what Saudi Arabia needs in order to overcome problems such as corruption and no-skilled workers except in the oil industry.
3. Program Evaluation
Though the governance of the country is tightly controlled by the royal family, Saudi Arabia has taken a number of measures to bring about political and social reforms (Hamrani and Khattab 2015). Accordingly, many steps have been taken, in the recent years, to increase transparency and accountability of its government institutions. One of the main agenda of this revamp includes countering bribery and corruption (GAN Integrity Solutions 2015). Bribery is looked upon as a serious crime by the Quran, and though the concept of anti-bribery has always been central to the Saudi Arabian legislative system, anticorruption has gained renewed importance recently.
In 2007, the council of ministers approved a plan called National Strategy for Maintaining Integrity and Combating Corruption (Hamrani and Khattab 2015). The Royal Order A/65 decreed on 18 March 2011, the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Nazaha which aims at combating administrative corruption (Hamrani and Khattab 2015). The types of business corruption in Saudi Arabia include nepotism, giving family members and friends, positions, and wasta, the practice of engaging middle men to carry out the business (GAN Integrity Solutions 2015). The intertwining of politics and the business sectors into patronage systems is another serious problem (GAN Integrity Solutions 2015).
The Saudi Arabian law titled Combating Bribery Law and Civil Service Law addresses abuse of positions or functions, bribery and monetary gifts (GAN Integrity Solutions 2015). The law does not address to difficult topics conflicts of interest and facilitation payments (GAN Integrity Solutions 2015). Another reason for the increased efforts to combat corruption can be traced to the ‘Arab Spring,’ which was induced by the public outrage towards corrupt governments resulting in toppling of many government heads (Rieger 2013). Anti-corruption strategies are undertaken in Saudi Arabia and an important way to overcome the problem is teaching students how to be responsible citizens.
Thus, in line with the efforts of the government to fight corruption, our model suggests a bottom-up approach by cultivating social responsibility of fighting bribery. This can be done through infusing in the educational system the values the government expects to be seen in its labor force. By inculcating a curriculum that promotes these traits, the students would grow up into responsible executives when they take up jobs in the public and private sectors.
Georgiev (2013) suggests that developing a culture of non-tolerance for corruption through education would help, in the long-term, to eliminate corruption. The education program should instruct the students about the meaning of corruptions, its impact on human rights and its damaging effects on the society. Hence, the research proposed is likely to induce strong principles in the minds of the children, which will become deeply rooted in them and will be reflected in their activities when they grow and take positions in public offices. Additionally, the proposed program will also be in line with initiatives taken by the Saudi king to combat corruption.
Lesson Concepts and Design
The new design proposed in this paper aims to enrich the existing educational program run by the Ministry of Education, for the students from 4th grade till 6th grade. The system proposed in this paper would help take on corruption by introducing a bottom-up approach. It involves introducing civic and social responsibility as a part of the existing curriculum. The design proposed is inspired by two such educational programs, which were, in the past, successful in achieving the above-mentioned goals. They are ‘Nqatoqi’ of the University of Itsmo in Guatemala and the ‘Leaders Now International program’ of the United States.
The model uses the ‘Socratic Method,’ which is the oldest and most powerful methodology of fostering critical thinking. It involves self-probing the mind by students because they are given questions to ponder rather than answers. The Socratic Method of questioning asks questions on a topic or statement to clarify; establish accuracy, precision, and relevance; to state the depth and breadth as well as the significance and logic (Paul and Elder 1997). The questioning format facilitates focusing on logical elements of the problem and induces disciplined thought (2014). It also allows the participants to question the goals and motives of policies and of individuals and improves their capability to analyze key concepts and ideas Paul and Elder (2014).
An OECD report (2012) pointed out that social cohesion is a valuable characteristic of a civil society and improves economic growth. Attaining a high level of education for school age children is a significant feature of a country with a social cohesion agenda (OECD 2011). An educated population leads to equal economic opportunities because youth from all groups even the disadvantaged can compete for the same positions (OECD 2011). Monetary market inequality becomes more balanced because educated citizens are offered equal opportunities. Social cohesion is also useful for lessening the gender gap (OECD 2011).
Understanding how to build a sustainable environment economically, calls for lessons in the concepts of managing and conserving natural resources (CalRecyle n.d.) Modules are available to teach lessons at the appropriate grade level so students can learn the definition of a natural resource and the difference between resources that are renewable and nonrenewable (CalRecyle n.d.). The lessons teach children how a landfill works and why recycling items is practical (CalRecyle n.d).
Teaching anti-corruption is focused on three main pillars taught at the appropriate level for the elementary student (Georgiev 2013.
How to define corruption,
The affect corruption has on human rights, and
Problems corruption introduces into a society
The goals of the proposed program can be summarized as below:
For Fourth graders
Fortifying their abilities to cooperate and exhibit cohesion.
Instilling a liking and admiration for natural resources.
For Fifth graders
Inculcating in them values such as acceptance, forgiveness, and respect.
Cultivating the ability to promote justice in their work and view their future profession as a service to the community.
For Sixth Graders
Helping students develop a strong mind and character by imbibing in them qualities such as strength, belief and temperance.
Developing in them a keen sense of civic and social responsibility.
4. Population Served
The sample of the project was obtained from primary schools in Jeddah, and the population consists of students from 4th grade – 6th grades. The schools are single-sex, and the below-given table (1) gives a picture of the sex distribution found in the schools.
The project will be conducted in two phases. The first phase involves conducting a pilot study with a small population, to check the effectiveness of the proposed changes, and during the second phase the trail will be conducted on a larger sample. Previous to the implementation of the trail experiment, a baseline survey will be collected.
5. Literature review
In recent years, there has been a call from many factions for Saudi Arabia to strengthen its institutions. Statistics shows that the Government expenditure on public services increased from US$1.6 billion in 1970 to US$158.9 billion in 2010. Alshahrani and Alsadiq (2014) state that “Government expenditures on education and defense are likely to affect private sector productivity or property rights, which matters for private investment” indicating the positive affect of spending on education to improve investments. The country is encouraging the growth of private sector for diversifying its economy and for providing employment opportunities for its growing population.
This underlines the importance of strengthening education system in the country. Also, to have strong private institutions an efficient and responsible labor force is imperative. Saudi Arabia is threatened by the increasing rate of corruption prevalent in its public and private sector. According to Transparency International (2013), Saudi Arabia occupies 63rd Rank among the countries of the world in perceived levels of corruption. It has a score of 46 in a scale of 0 to 100. While it is better placed than many of its neighbors, it is still an alarming situation which should not be allowed to exacerbate. From the above statistics, it is clear that the major roadblock to the development of private sector in Saudi Arabia is not lack of investment but lack of transparency.
Economists have always placed great stress on the importance of investments in education. They believe that human capital is an important aspect of economic growth. Targeted investments in the education sector will lead to increased rates of growth, and thus, there is a need for designing policies that would aid effective learning. Having a quality early education system is central to developing knowledgeable and skilled workforce.
The impact of a good early education system can be witnessed in health as well as social outcomes. However, students do not learn in isolation and a plethora of factors, both inside and outside the system, contribute towards this experience. These factors interact and help in the development of the children into competent and independent learners. Globalization and the speed at which it is happening have thrown new challenges to the education systems of the world countries. Information and ideas are being exchanged in lightning speed, throwing up new challenges for policy discourse. The resultant ideological changes and change in the market economic structures, have further accentuated the significance of the early education system.
Hanushek and Wößmann (2007) argue that the quality of education imparted plays a huge role in the economic growth of the country. They state that, “the cognitive skills of the population – rather than mere school attainment – are powerfully related to individual earnings, to the distribution of income, and to economic growth.” They elucidate how education levels of the population differ drastically between the developed and developing nations, and argue that raising the schooling levels is imperative for improving the quality of human capital.
Peter Eigen, the head of Transparency International (2013), argues that civil society is a necessary element in the fight against bribery and corrupt practices. He further states that civil society should work along with the Government and private sector. Civil society can play a number of roles in fighting corruption such as monitoring, criticizing and publicizing information regarding corrupt practices. When corruption is rampant in a country, it suggests that a large part of the society is a participant in this corrupt process. Thus, there is an immediate need for education programs that would prepare the population to fight corruption.
Hanushek and Wößmann (2007) explain that just increasing the investment in educations sector alone would not translate into gains in terms of human capital. Improving the quality of education should be central to any new educational program. Studies also show that improving the quality of education has a vital impact on the distribution of income. Particularly, for the purpose of our study, to decrease corruption the quality of education is vital. The goals of education should not just be academic development alone, but a quality education should result in a well-rounded development of an individual. It should contribute to the growth of his social, emotional and ethical skills.
Critical thinking is a significant activity to teach children so they can understand the complexity of problems, design solutions and implement solutions. Critical thinking can be defined as “finding solutions or discovering hidden things. It is also known as gathering supporting evidences to criticize and issue (Alwadia 2014).” In a study of Saudi Arabian school teachers the definition is rarely the same from teacher to teacher (Alwadia 2014). One teacher interviewed by Alwadia (2014) told him that critical thinking was an increasing of trust between a teacher and students that allows for students to gain the same knowledge as the teacher. The teachers were of the opinion that the greatest obstacle to critical thinking in Saudi Arabia is the traditional, conservative society views the attribute of critical thinking as disrespectful. In other words, traditionally children have been taught by their teachers and their parents to respect the “cultural ideas” of others and to accept the ideas “without question” (Alwadia 2014: 42). Another obstacle s that some leaders and elderly community members are afraid to allow children to learn critical thinking because conforming to the Saudi society is a way to keep the society secure (Alwadia 2014). On the one side Saudi leaders and on the other side Saudi parents do not view questioning or dialoguing with authority figures as respectful or appropriate behavior.
Alwadia (2014) asked the teachers in his study on critical thinking for Saudi Arabian students, what challenges do the face with the students when trying to teach them critical thinking. A five scale Likert ranking system was used in order to allow teachers to indicate which response most closely matched their feelings about statements on the subject of teaching critical thinking “strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree, strongly disagree (Alwadia 2014)” Three statements on the topic resulted in over 68 percent of the teachers strongly agreeing with the premise of the statements listed below. Approximately 11 percent of the respondents indicated ‘agree,’ therefore about 79 percent of the teachers were in agreement that students posed a challenge to learning critical thinking due to the features:
“Students lack needed background knowledge for practicing Critical Thinking,
The teachers agreed with the statement that “Students are impatient with the difficulty of practicing (Alwadia 2014: 43).” Approximately 53 percent strongly agreed and approximately 45 percent indicated agreement (Alwadia 201). So, in total about 98 percent of the teachers were on the agreeing side of the statement that the students do not like to practice critical thinking.
Research by Alghamdi and Al-Salouli (2012) focused on the process of teaching science and students’ learning of science in contemporary times. The point of focus was Saudi Arabia’s newly designed science curriculum that has a very different desired goal than traditional curriculum because the goals of the new curriculum are solving problems using critical thinking. The new curriculum also calls for group activities to learn in teams or as a group (Alghamdi and Al-Salouli 2012). The research was carried out with in-depth interviews of science teachers. The teachers indicated that the new teaching curriculum was more enjoyable to teach and that students were showing an ability to understand scientific concepts more easily (Alghamdi and Al-Salouli 2012). On the other hand, some overwhelming challenges are being faced by the science teachers.
Longer class room time is needed
The high student to teacher ratio did not give them enough time to work with individuals who were needed more attention
No laboratory space
Few scientific instruments available
No support from the administrative department of their schools
The researchers suggested that future research should take into account not only the self-assessments from teachers but also in-classroom activities and practices (Alghamdi and Al-Salouli 2012). They feel that a stronger understanding can be achieved when classroom practices and beliefs are made.
Alghamdi and Al-Salouli (2012) concluded that the Saudi Ministry of Education needs to rethink the public policy on a few items.
More time is needed to teach science in classrooms for all age groups. Two periods per week is not enough.
The student to teacher ratio is too high and must be lowered. The large number of students in classrooms makes teaching science projects and group lessons unrealistic.
The frustration teachers felt because no opportunities for career development are being offered.
An applied research project carried out by Alamdi and Fallatah (2014) introduced experiments to find effective methods for teaching civic education. The experiments did not use the traditional lecturing method for teaching civics, but allowed a “proactive learning process” between students and teachers (Alamdi and Fallatah 2014: 3). The modifications were designed so that students can learn what values are necessary to integrate human dignity, social responsibility and civic responsibility into their daily lives. The types of values that were introduced as modifications in the experiments included work ethic, tolerance and solidarity; not all the values are included in the new Saudi Arabian school curriculum (Alamdi and Fallatah 2014). The experiments were far reaching because the researchers wanted to find a framework that could allow the teachers to encourage students to become actively engaged in learning and carry what they learned home and to their neighborhoods as well as practicing the new values at school. The researchers used an observational method to carefully monitor activity and to evaluate four stages from passive to more proactive (Alamdi and Fallatah 2014). The biggest challenge for them was communicating to the students that there was no ‘optimal’ answer; they only needed to answer what they believed or felt with all honesty. The behavior of striving to always give the optimal answer is a “learned behavior” because in traditional teaching, only one answer is correct and if the student does not answer correctly the teacher may become angry (Alamdi and Fallatah 2014). By the end of the study, the researchers noted that some teachers were not as rigid with their expectations during the last experiments. Today’s Saudi Arabian children are tomorrow’s leaders so Alamdi (2014) strongly wanted to accomplish imparting “a sense of responsibility” within the children’s outlook. Future research may allow a larger scaled experiment in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The overall practical purpose of such studies is to monitor programs that are being used and strengthening weak points to make them more effective.
6. Structure of the Evaluation
The evaluation is done through a two-step process. The first stage involves conducting a pilot study with a limited sample. Based on the results of the first phase, the experiment is repeated with a larger population. During the first phase, two analyses are conducted before and after the experiment. The survey is designed and distributed among the sample to gauge the effect of the program. The survey employs an integral approach.
There are four sections in the survey – a) identification b) execution c) information about the content and techniques used in the evaluation program and d) outcome in terms of values, quality of life and civic and social responsibility.
The results of the pilot study are taken into consideration during the implementation of stage two. The curriculum is modified based on the results of the pilot study, and the experiment is repeated using a larger sample. Sample is selected from a larger pool of citywide population. The same four sections used in the pilot survey is employed, and in phase two a baseline is collected in addition to the pre and post data.
A modified curriculum could not be implemented without providing adequate training to teachers. For the purpose evaluating the effectiveness of the training given to teachers, an additional section will be added which will measure the outcome of the training. This training will stress on the importance of indulging students in every part of the curriculum and encouraging them to actively participate in discussions. Since the students are the primary beneficiaries of the modified curriculum, their opinions and reactions are taken into account to improve the quality of the program.
7. Sample Design
Binomial sample distribution method is used to determine the sample size of the two groups under evaluation – treated and non-treated. An allowance of 10% and 20% will be allowed for clustering effect and error correction respectively. The formula used is n = z2pq/e2. By applying the formula, the sample size required is depicted in table 3.
Since teachers and parents have a heavy influence of the outcome, they will also be surveyed. The sample of teachers and parents interviewed will depend on the students selected for the study.
8. Data Collection and Justification
First, the present curriculum will be assessed, and trial experiment will be developed to evaluate the proposed revisions. The sample will be divided into treatment and control groups, and data will be collected before and after the implementation of the experiment. This will helps us to find out glitches, if any, in the proposed method, and allow us to rectify them before conducting the experiment with a larger sample. The trial involves exposing the students to the various stages and aspects of the curriculum designed. There will be two groups for each grade (4th, 5th, and 6th). One group will be the treatment group and will be exposed to the curriculum while the other group will act as a control group.
9. Methodology Plan for the Analysis
The experiments will be done over the period of a fortnight. The results obtained from the first stage will be analyzed using multiple regression analysis. It is a powerful technique to predict an unknown variable when two or more variables of the equation have a known value. Additionally, this method helps us to predict the influence each of these variables has on the end result. This method is widely employed for predictions and forecasting.
The results of the second phase will be analyzed using differences in regression. Since we are using a baseline during the second phase, this method was selected. It is a technique used to compare data over a period of time between the treatment group and the control group.
10. Research Design
The research design is a new approach that was developed in order to support modifications related to anti-corruption in the curriculum of Saudi Arabian elementary schools. A qualitative survey approach was used by distributing a questionnaire to three classrooms (fourth, fifth and sixth grades) in four Saudi Arabian Schools. The bottom-up approach, educating children in the schoolroom because they will be tomorrow’s leaders, is supported in Saudi Arabia. Two successful research projects were used as guides (discussed above).
The very first step was to carry out a comprehensive literature review to find sources of reliable information that contributes to research. The literature review includes peer reviewed articles from academic journals International Journal of Science, Journal of School Psychology and Mathematics Education, Journal of Education and Learning. The strategy of improving education in order to improve a country’s economy is the topic for research international organizations. Therefore, data and information were collected from the IMF, the World Bank, agencies of the United Nation (UNDP and UNESCO) and from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education is serious about overcoming the problem of corruption, improving education and improved the economy of Saudi Arabia for the long-term and pertinent data and information was gathered from that source and other Saudi Arabian agencies as well as research based in Saudi Arabia.
In order to determine the size of the sample the binomial sample distribution method was used to determine the size for two groups, treated and non-treated. Allowances of 10 percent (clustering effect) and 20 percent (error correction) were chosen using the following equation. To calculate the sample size when estimating a percentage or proportion, it is the correct equation to use.
n = Z2pq / e2
n = size of sample
e = acceptable error
Z = Standard Variate
p = population
q = Sample proportion
The experimental design involved creating four experiments. The four experiments are prepared so that the students are given an imaginary scenario and several choices. The experiments are used to determine if by doing the experiments the students will become more aware of ethical behavior without corruption. The measurement used is to offer a preliminary questionnaire, and then the four experimental situations, and then the same questionnaire will be retaken. The differences in the final questionnaire from the preliminary questionnaire will be calculated and a linear regression analysis will be used to evaluate the data.
The purpose of the research is to find a method for designing a measurement tool to evaluate the rate of change before and after experiments of factors that influence anti-corruption attitudes in Saudi school children. The government is highly supportive of modifications in the educational curriculum allowing children to attain higher levels of knowledge because in the long-term the country will benefit.
The experiments are based on the Socratic Method for teaching and fostering critical thinking. The children are told what is right or wrong; they must think about the problem the experiment provided and honestly indicate the answer that best reflects the action they would take in the same situation. The greatest challenge that is expected is that the children will want to answer the question in the way they think the teacher wants. Teaching children that real-life problems can be satisfactorily solved a variety of way is part of the educational goal. The overarching purpose of anti-corruption programmes in schools is to educate children in ethical concepts because the resulting benefit for the country will lead to a higher economy and therefore a better quality of life for everyone.
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