Saudi businesswomen like to invest in education
Moleha Al-Qahtani, an investor who was able to obtain financing five years ago to open a school that received several awards, said: “Investing in this sector is an investment in human capital and a contribution to building the community.”
She said education is one of the main sectors that attracts Saudi businesswomen for investment because of the lack of restrictions. While there are some obstacles and many challenges in this sector, it is possible to overcome them. “Investment in the sector needs our contribution, and the most important objective of such investment should not be financial gain,” she said.
She added that her My Rights of Childhood project aims to promote development and change. Another project accepts and educates children who suffer from minor problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to enhance their skills development, because they are often not accepted in general education schools and there is difficulty in registering them in the disability centers.
Alia Al-Essa, another investor, said she believes that the percentage of default in the educational sector is about 20 percent due to investors having little background in the sector.
With the increase in the number of businesswomen investing in the education sector in the past two years, it is essential for women investors to have experience in order to avoid having their projects fail in the first year.
She said private education projects in particular are facing several obstacles due to Saudization and the lack of local experienced cadres, as well as the inability to pay salaries that have been set by the state, which are about SR5,600. She said these obstacles led to the closure of many schools in the Kingdom.
She explained that more and more women are investing in the education sector, but she feared that these investments might collide with investment constraints, including the requirements of the Ministries of Education and Municipal and Rural Affairs, which change on daily basis and need clear laws.
She identified the main problems as obtaining a license, which requires more than two years, insufficient funding, Saudization requirements, and the lack of Saudi cadres who do not have enough experience and training.
Salem Bajajh, professor of accounting at the University of Taif, said that a lot of parents are interested in investing in the education of their children, as they realize that that the economic returns of their children’s education is high in the long term.
He said a lot of Saudi parents send their children abroad despite high tuition fees in order to teach them different languages. “Most countries have preceded us in investing in human capital and thus have achieved great success,” he said, and stressed the need to take advantage of these international experiences, noting that the Kingdom has made national human resource development one of the pillars of basic development.
In light of an urgent need to focus on education and training at the present time, the King Abdullah Project for the development of public education allocated SR12 billion over five years, as part of a new strategy for education, to cover four points: improving the public learning environment, teacher training, curriculum development and extra-curricular activities.
Sarah Al-Eissa of the Department of Private Education in the Eastern Province, said during a meeting held in the Asharqia Chamber recently that investment in the education sector received the support and attention of the Ministry of Education.
The meeting discussed the launch of several projects, including the “educational coupons project” in private schools as one of the new projects implemented by the ministry. The project involves the purchase of classroom seats in private schools for a scholarship provided by the state, similar to what is happening in the higher education field in Saudi Arabia and in a number of other countries.
She said that the ministry is considering the mechanisms of the educational coupons project, noting that there are many factors that control the distribution of these coupons.
The ministry wants to support private education, so it is studying the distribution of these coupons to gifted students, special education students and orphans.