Understanding Policy Enactment of Technology in Saudi Arabia: Three Case Studies in Intermediate Schools Pursuing the Future Gate Project

Author: Fahad Ibrahim Aldawsari

Aldawsari, Fahad Ibrahim, 2023 Understanding Policy Enactment of Technology in Saudi Arabia: Three Case Studies in Intermediate Schools Pursuing the Future Gate Project, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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This study examines the enactment of policy processes regarding technology in schools in Saudi Arabia, focusing on the Future Gate Project (FGP) in order to understand the nature of policy enactment in schools in a country where centralised decision-making is the norm. It explores the process of policy enactment in three Saudi intermediate schools (7–9 grade) in Wadi Addawasser (WAD) Governorate within the Saudi Arabia FGP policy change and implementation agenda. The experiences of school principals and teachers as policy actors within the FGP agenda in their schools were collected to understand the sociocultural construction and the interpretation of policy practices in schools.

The research employed an exploratory case study approach informed by policy enactment theory (Ball et al., 2012). The research adopted two methods of qualitative data collection: semi-structured interviews and school documents analysis. The study applied purposeful sampling to select the three intermediate boys schools. The interviews were conducted with 15 participants, including three school principals and 12 teachers (four teachers from each school). Analysis consisted of a hybrid approach of thematic analysis (Swain, 2018) that included inductive and deductive analysis of the sets of data gathered. The final themes generated in the analysis were: (1) knowledge of FGP policy; (2) FGP policy enactment processes, including Preparing the school environment, Motivation and the activation of FGP tools; (3) Challenges of FGP policy enactment; and (4) The FGP enactment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The final themes were connected within Ball’s policy framework elements theory to discuss and interpret the process of FGP policy enactment in schools by school principals and teachers (Ball et al., 2012). This approach emphasises how policies are interpreted, translated, mediated and recontextualised in local contexts. This approach emphasises the role of context in policy enactment, involving all four contextual dimensions (situated context, material context, external pressures, and professional cultures). The findings of my study proved that policy enactment in schools is a sophisticated series of contextually mediated, institutionally produced interpretation and translation processes. That is, policy enactment is the interpretation and translation of processes by different policy actors across a broad set of situations and practices. The most significant finding from the study is that, despite operating in centralised systems, the three principals tried as much as possible to contextualise the policy enactment process especially through preparation of the school environment. The study presents significant policy implications in the area of school technology policy enactment, concluding that policy makers in the Ministry of Education (MoE) should consider a policy development approach that incorporates different stakeholders from the initial stages. Future researchers should consider adopting quantitative methods to establish causal relationships between different types of leadership and their impact on the school technology enactment process.

Keywords: Policy enactment in Saudi Arabia schools, School's policy actors, School technology policy enactment, Ball’s policy framework elements theory, The role of context in policy enactment, The four contextual dimensions.

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2023
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Dr. Shane Pill