Education is recognized as an important factor in the development of any country regardless of the country’s culture. As such, most governments in the world have committed large amounts of capital towards the education of their people. There are obviously many similarities between the education systems in the two countries but this paper focuses on the differences. The education in the US offers a different experience to that in Saudi Arabia. Much of the differences, however, are occasioned by the different cultures that the two countries have. The differences in the education experiences are best viewed from the perspective of the students, especially those that have had the opportunity of experiencing both (Hughes, 1965).
The language in the education systems of the two countries is one distinctive difference. The difference is more so brought about by the different mother tongues in the US and Saudi Arabia. In the US, students are taught in English, because the national language is in English. In contrast, however, education in Saudi Arabia is offered in both Arabic and English languages since the national language in Saudi Arabia is Arabic. Another notable difference is in the cost of the education in the two countries. In Saudi Arabia, education is free for all citizens and college and university students are given a stipend every month to cater for their personal needs. In the US, though, every student has to pay tuitions for their education and they are not offered monthly stipends as their Saudi Arabia counterparts. The only financial support offered to American students is in form of a loan which is payable once they are employed.
In America, US students are allowed to choose the elective classes that they wish to study and are allowed to major in their third or fourth year of study. In Saudi Arabia, however, students must choose their major in their first year of study. The students are not allowed to choose elective courses and are compelled to take the units that relate to the majors that they chose in first year.
The clothes worn to school also present a major difference between studying in the US and studying in Saudi Arabia. In the US, students do not have to wear any uniform and are allowed to wear any clothing they deem fit. In Saudi Arabia, however, the students must be in a special uniform that is designed for each of the different schools. Nevertheless, the uniforms are only worn in lower classes and not in college or university education. Still, there is a major difference in the two education systems due to the nature of the schools. In the US, boys and girls are allowed to study together in mixed schools and even attend the same classes. In contrast, students in Saudi Arabia are divided based on their gender such that girls and boys do not mix. The limitation is applied even in college and university education where boys have to enroll to boys’ universities and the same case for girls.
The other difference is in the environment in which education is offered in the two different countries. In the US, universities are large complexes and may be as big as an entire city housing shopping malls, hospitals, supermarkets and restaurants. In retrospect, universities in Saudi Arabia are relatively smaller and house fewer students. The cafeterias and medical centers are also smaller in Saudi Arabian schools than they are in US schools. Moreover, the education system has much more stages than the American system. This many stages means that most students in Saudi Arabia finish school at an older age compared to the students in American schools.
The education system in Saudi Arabia relies mostly on the students’ ability to memorize what the teachers teach them. Students are therefore restricted to reading only what the teachers have taught them and then replicating the same in a n examination. The students in these schools are not allowed to question or amplify what their teachers have taught them lest they receive a punishment. In the US, however, the education system gives the students more freedom in terms of what they learn in class. It relies more on the actual thinking of the individual students as regards the subject matter and the unit being taken. In this regard, the system allows the learning to extend and apply the information acquired from teachers into other non-related areas.
In Saudi Arabia, most of the hard sciences are taught in a manner that does not encourage the development of critical and independent thinking among the students. However, most private education institutions do encourage some form of such development, albeit partially. On the other hand, the teaching of the hard sciences in US schools encourages development of critical and independent thinking. This is because students are allowed to apply the information gathered in other disciplines. In addition, the teaching in Saudi Arabia is mainly main-stream whereby teachers stand in front of a class and teach then leaves. In the US, however, teachers encourage students to read on their own either through established platforms such as websites or from the library. As thus, teachers will send the note to the students and only help where they do not understand.
Hughes, J. (1965). Education in America (2d ed.). New York: Harper & Row
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