Education paper (proposal): Education in the United States

Published under category: Writing Help Convenience | 2015-06-11 11:23:29 UTC

Context: Education and school administration

United States Education

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Over the years, institutions of higher education in the United States have being ranked among the top and best in the world as a result of their exceptional education curriculum. Nations have been advocating for more of their student to seek education abroad through establishing scholarship programs to assist bright applicants financially as it is a costly affair. Among the countries whose number are India, China and South Korea. Saudi Arabia is also joining this bracket of countries campaigning for their students to apply for universities and colleges in the United States. The efforts were spear headed by former Saudi ruler, King Abdallah who started a scholarship program for Saudi students. A growing number of international students means that the United States has to put in mechanisms and measures to ensure that these foreign students receive proper treatment and equal educational opportunities as their counterparts. In this proposal, I will focus on the issue of the escalating number of Saudi scholars in the United States, the impact that it has had and the improvements or adjustments the hosting government should make in order to ensure that these foreign students get the education they seek.

The Saudi Arabian government commissioned an agency called Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) to oversee programs and policies administered appropriately to its students studying abroad in the United States.  The agency was established in 1951 and doubles up as an intermediary between the United Sates institutions and their counterparts in the region. It focuses on issues pertaining education, culture and science. According to statistics from the agency, the number of Saudi students currently enrolled in American colleges and English Language Schools (ESL’s) amount to over 100,000. In 2013 alone, there was a reported 30% increase in the number of fresh enrollments as compared to the previous year. It is obvious that this massive number of students has a notable effect especially culture wise when they return home. The Saudi Arabian culture is conservative. James Smith, who is the United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia notes that the increasing population of Saudi students in the West would hopefully be large enough to catalyze a positive change to the Nation’s conservative culture. He says that, “they have received a world-class education. As they now come home they will have the opportunity to shape the future development of the Kingdom and the future of the Saudi-American friendship”.

Through the agency, Saudi’s national educational and training policies are implemented in a bid to provide qualified individuals with the capability of helping achieve the kingdom’s goals and vision of cultural growth and development. It is mandated with providing the best educational opportunities in the best colleges and universities the United States has to offer. Students are supported both financially and academically so that they can achieve their educational goals. In addition, it ensures that Saudi’s cultural practices and traditions are widespread to other parts of the globe. 

More than 6 decades ago, there was an alarming literacy level in Saudi Arabia, with statistics rating it at below 5%. Currently according to research carried out by Ellen Knickmeyerm, the rate has gone up to about 79% as data from CIA world fact book indicates. A third of this population has university degrees. One of the main issues of concern in Saudi Arabia is the extent to which religious conservatives influence the curriculum. The kingdom was ranked 93rd out of 129 participating nations as regards the quality of education index as Knickmeyerm further notes. These religious conservatives tend to concentrate more on theology rather than focusing on math and science subjects. According to Knickmeyerm, the United States began to check foreign nationalities seeking citizenship in its soil after the terror attacks of 9/11. It was claimed that 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi origin. As a result as Knickmeyerm continues to note, the United States put in tough restrictions which kept away most of the Saudi students from entering the country. The United States state department records that by 2004 the number of Saudi students stood at only 1000. After King Abdallah ascended on the throne, he set out to discuss manners through which the United States would waive its restrictions so that Saudi students would be allowed to pursue their education in the country. As only rich kids could afford the expensive tuition required, there was also need to design a strategy that would ensure or assist those who could not afford the tuition fee but were bright enough to study abroad. Thus, the King started the King Abdallah scholarship program. Earlier, it was only privileged children who were able to secure positions to learn at these foreign institutions. The scholarship however seeks to sponsor any bright and promising student in the society. King Abdullah’s intentions were to foster foreign travel and science. The King knew that there was need to modernize the country, which was achievable if they exposed young talented and ambitious students to a different culture.

Establishment of these mechanisms has seen the number of Saudis studying in the country increase drastically. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the kingdom has been one of the rapidly growing source of foreign students having sent over 66000 students to the United Sates universities in the previous year (Song). The United States administrators saw this as an opportunity to generate revenue in order to survive the tough financial times as a result of the economic crunch (Song). They increased the tuition fees. On the other hand, the concerned parties have noticed the increasing enrollments and majority among them being the Central Washington University in Ellensburg, went ahead to offer Saudi cultural practices as an incentive to make foreign students feel compelled to enlist with them. For example, the Central Washington University in Ellensburg, offered to provide halal food that been prepared in accordance to Islamic culture (Knickmeyer). They did so in order to accommodate the 150 new Saudi applicants joining their institution in the year 2011. This shows the continual increase of the number of Saudis studying in the United States. Currently more than 130000 people have registered for abroad education under the king’s scholarship and the numbers continue to increase (Knickmeyer).

Being a conservative society, Saudi Arabian culture dictates certain prohibitions especially to the women. For example, they are not allowed to drive a vehicle on their own and should also be accompanied by a male companion when travelling. The exposure of their students after travelling abroad tend to broaden their perspective on such issues, as there are no such restrictions imposed in the United States. Thus, these students are able to adapt in a multicultural society and adopt positive traits, which are vital into shaping their culture back at home. Among the major changes that are being campaigned for is the need to moderate the religious extremism in the kingdom. Some religious factions have protested against the permission to allow women travel abroad for further studies, arguing that it is likely to erode their morals and values. However, they have instead proven to develop their intellectual identity, always outperforming their male peers in terms of grades. In addition to this, according to universitylanguage.com, they also get opportunities to partake in activities that would be impossible at home such as working or getting a driver’s license. This exposure also allows them to take on responsibilities that otherwise would have been left for the men back at home. This results to a more dynamic and empowered Saudi woman, who is not confined by strict cultural beliefs.

One of the major challenges that the two countries faced is how to maintain connections and networks after the foreigners return home. This can be rectified by building of alumni databases to facilitate communication and networking links after students return home. The Cultural Mission agency is mandated with overseeing this. Secondly, it is important to establish more ESL, The ESL’s help break down culture and language barriers. Through pairing students with foreign exchange partners, dialogues and long lasting friendships are established. Campuses should also establish writing centers with enough and adequate facilities for the Saudi students who often struggle to get satisfactory assistance. Saudi students as a result can hone their writing skills in the universities and colleges.

In conclusion, numbers of Saudi students seeking abroad education in the United States has escalated over a considerable period of time. The two countries have as a result agreed on policies and work together to promote cultural exchange as well as developing intellectual individuals. Once these Saudi students return home, they are committed to develop their kingdom by employing the skills and knowledge acquired in the U.S. In addition, they are able to instigate change regarding some popular cultural beliefs and practices, which are especially campaigned for by religious extremists. It is evident that these numbers will continue increasing drastically as more students from Saudi Arabia choose to pursue their education in the United States.

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