The Kingdom is investing in education in various ways to bring its citizens to the forefront of the global community, Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal told the Town Hall Los Angeles today.
To that end, Saudi Arabia is taking three critical steps, he said. First, Saudi Arabia is upgrading its educational system – removing items perceived as intolerance from textbooks, designing new curriculums that emphasize critical thinking, and promoting moderation and tolerance.
Second, Prince Turki noted, the Kingdom is investing heavily in education to prepare Saudis for life and work in the global economy. For 2006, 26 percent of the state budget has been allocated to education, including the construction of some 2,600 schools, 50 technical colleges and more than 100 training institutes over the next five years.
He also highlighted the increasingly important role women are playing in Saudi economic development, noting that many government programs are designed to provide opportunities for women.
Finally, Saudi Arabia is taking steps to broaden its citizens’ horizons and emphasize the value of cultural exchange through scholarship programs. Many of these students will be coming to the United States, Prince Turki said.
“When taken together, these three steps form the basis of a world-class education,” Prince Turki said. “If our citizens possess the skills and understanding to compete effectively with their global peers, then they will be active contributors to the global community. They will be promoters of peace and tolerance throughout the world.”
In a question and answer session following his remarks, Prince Turki commented on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Arab Peace Initiative; the changing role of women in the Kingdom, which Prince Turki said he believes will lead to full suffrage; Saudi efforts to develop alternative energy sources; the Saudi-US relationship; and Saudi-US cooperation in the war on terrorism, in particular the Kingdom’s call for an international counterterrorism center.
Transcript of address and Q&A session