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When the University Called the Police - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Police were called in to end a chaotic scene at a university located in northern Saudi Arabia. The cause of the incident were a number of female high school graduates fighting to enroll at the university.

A police spokesman said that the security organs were compelled to intervene, at the university’s request, because some students refused to leave the registration offices and insisted on creating disarray until they could enroll in the new university which became full as soon as the new school year started.

To solve the problem, the dean was forced to enroll all the girls.

Our conservative society has certainly bypassed and completed important stages in the process of educating the woman. The process began over 40 years ago when the government opened the first girls schools amidst much social anger and rejection and this was followed by sharp arguments and many incidents after which and because of which concepts and expectations changed. Society has moved from the age of rejecting schools to fighting for university seats. Around 50,000 girls are today graduating from the various universities and institutes and more than half a million are in the government jobs sector, a figure that confirms a stunning change and indicates the need for taking the new situation into consideration. The crush to enroll and the ant-like queues of schools and universities graduates signal in return the nature of the future. The battle of the Arar girls means insistence on the right to a university education and not just a general one.

Woman’s success in education seems to be worthy of attention at all levels because of its various social significances which raise traditional questions about the traditional school terms, the graduation timing, and going out into the labor market. The problem has become general and does not concern females alone. Two problems remained once the rejection of education ended; one concerns the enrollment in schools in terms of the quality of education and the second is about what happens after leaving the school’s gates. As the quality of education does not satisfy the labor market’s needs, the result is therefore quite natural: A flood of graduates and a jobs drought for both sexes. Education as it is now does not qualify the graduate to be an employee or even to be useful in the household. It is the same with the female graduate. In other words, we have success in pushing people toward education and failure in benefiting from the massive amounts of money which the government is spending on education. The government is then forced once again to spend massive amounts of money to absorb the graduates by creating jobs whose aim is to provide for them more than being productive jobs.

An importance change in the concept of the woman’s role is emerging. It moved from accepting education up to the top of the university levels to considering the woman a financier of the family’s purse. The family now considers the employment of its daughter a necessity for improving living conditions, just like the farmer who considered his sons useful hands in the field. This success, which many do not see because they focus on the details, deserves to be developed into qualitative education and productive employment. This is a public need for both groups in society, not just the woman.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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