A Critical Systemic Approach to Human Development in Education: A Case Study of the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia

Author: Saad Algraini

Algraini, Saad, 2017 A Critical Systemic Approach to Human Development in Education: A Case Study of the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia, Flinders University, School of Social and Policy Studies

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The case study of both public and private schools in Saudi Arabia is designed to contribute to the understanding of human development in education. The research defines human development in terms of students’ ability to achieve their learning goals as well as to maximize their human potential. The research design includes the collection of data from public and private schools for boys and girls in two provinces in Saudi Arabia. A range of qualitative methods is used in the research, including documentary review, interviews, focus groups, and field notes. This research is funded by the Saudi government, and it has been approved by the Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee of Flinders University, South Australia (project number 6169).

This thesis critically reviews the process and content of education, in order to investigate the development of students’ capabilities and the extent to which the educational outcomes are able to produce well-rounded graduates. Participants in the study are students, teachers, heads of schools, policy officers in education departments, and policy makers in the Ministry of Education. To sum up, the thesis draws on critical pedagogy to highlight key issues that arise in learning at the school level and recommends that workbooks linked with text books encourage students and learners to engage critically with the material and that the parallel curriculum should address social and environmental justice in line with the Millennium Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nussbaum’s capabilities approach provides a holistic theory upon which to support policies for human development. A case is made for imbedding a gender mainstreaming approach in the structure, content and process of learning.

The thesis concludes that the education system needs to appreciate the importance of social and environmental diversity, in order to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to reward engagement in the learning process that will prepare students to become lifelong learners.

Keywords: Human Development, Capabilities, Saudi Arabia, Education, Critical Systemic Approach

Subject: Policy and Administration thesis, Social Administration thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of Social and Policy Studies
Supervisor: Janet McIntyre-Mills