The decision taken by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz to extend the period of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program for Saudi male and female students to five years can only be described as one of the most important decisions that Saudi Arabia has made recently.
There is a great deal of activity on all levels in Saudi Arabia [at present]. Moreover, the level of hope and anticipation is very high in light of the decisions made by the Saudi King and his transparency that Saudi citizens feel and trust. However, the decision to extend the period of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program is one of the most important decisions, as we said before, and will have a significant positive effect on Saudi Arabia in both the short and long terms.
Education is the real key to development and advancement of which all states and nations are in need. Moreover, education is the best kind of investment and the best way to strengthen society and to guarantee that the wheel of development is in motion on all levels, whether with regards to economics or security. Through education, the level of awareness increases and it creates the ideal model in all fields. It also sets about the ambitions required for a better tomorrow. It was delightful news to hear that the number of Saudi male and female students sent abroad [as part of this program] had reached approximately 80,000.
However, what’s important today, as mentioned in a number of previous articles, is that Saudi Arabia has begun to create a clear and beneficial tool by bringing about continuous financial resources to guarantee the continuation of [awarding] foreign scholarships for more years for the youth. This protects this distinguished project for those who have financial difficulties, so there must be a clear program with a fixed timeframe of no less than the next ten years to guarantee the process of sending students abroad to study, especially as the educational movement in Saudi Arabia is witnessing significant positive development. However, these efforts require more time and competence and it cannot happen in only a few years. Foreign scholarships contribute to achieving the pursued goals of educational change.
Therefore, it would be more beneficial if there were to be a fund specifically for scholarships to which the state and private sector contribute, and the heads of large businesses in particular, in order to guarantee the continuation of scholarships. This is not because the state is unable to do this [alone] but so that there is a [shared] interest and continuation of the process of [awarding] scholarships in a practical manner, especially as the private sector, most prominently, benefits from those who have taken part in scholarships and have returned [to Saudi Arabia] with qualifications and knowledge.
What we dream of is a scholarship program not only for male and female students but one that benefits a broader spectrum of Saudis whether through intensive courses or through exchange visits within government sectors [involving people] such as school teachers or university lecturers, and even covering other government sectors. And the same applies to the private sector in a number of fields.
Since its establishment by founder King Abdulaziz, may he rest in peace, Saudi Arabia has been developing continuously and foreign scholarships represent one of the most important wheels of development. Consequently, there is every hope that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz will make scholarships systematic work in accordance with a timetable to achieve benefits for the country and to provide educational opportunities to students and ongoing development for employees and this is all for one simple reason; education is the key to everything.