Al-Andalus School’s Educational Challenges

Introduction

Al-Andalus School is one of the private schools operating in Saudi Arabia. The ministry of education of Saudi Arabia has licensed it to provide education to both boys and girls, but separately. In its operations, the school is committed to providing quality education to children in Saudi Arabia. The school offers education to children from kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12). Over the years, the school has undergone significant growth thus motivating its founders to establish new branches. One factor that has contributed to the school’s growth is its curriculum expansion. In 2007, the school introduced the American Diploma Program to satisfy the ever-increasing need for a credible English curriculum (Alam, 2007). Moreover, the school has a modern computer laboratory that has enabled it to provide e-teaching and e-learning. Therefore, the school can provide education that meets and satisfies international standards.

Despite its current effectiveness in providing quality education, the school is experiencing challenges emanating from changes in the Saudi Arabian education sector. The education sector has formulated new curriculum and regulations that private schools have to comply with within providing education to the students. Moreover, since the school is private, it is facing stiff competition from public schools in terms of resources necessary to improve learning among students. Hence, this paper examines Al-Andalus School as a case study in a bid to develop a better understanding of challenges in schools in Saudi Arabia. In reviewing the case of Al-Andalus School, the paper takes into account some elements like conducting a literature review on challenges facing schools in the country. Moreover, the paper outlines the key problems that the school is facing currently while illustrating the research framework, source of data, and the method of analyzing the collected data. Al-Andalus School is experiencing challenges such as managing growth, maintaining teacher ratio, government rules, working environment, the motivation of teachers, integration of Islamic religion, and inadequate resources, and these challenges will be examined in this paper.

Problem statement

As aforementioned, schools in Saudi Arabia are undergoing intense changes, which have arisen from rampant societal changes and educational reforms that the government is currently undertaking. The need to develop a knowledge-based economy is one factor that has stimulated the Saudi Arabian government to incorporate reforms within the education sector (Renihan & Phillips, 2003). Hence, while Al-Andalus School is striving to keep abreast with educational reforms, it experiences challenges such as managing growth, adopting a new curriculum, maintaining teacher ratio, government rules, working environment, the motivation of teachers, integration of Islamic religion, and inadequate resources.

Findings of a study conducted by Alpen reveal that the growth of the private education sector in Saudi Arabia is likely to outpace that of public schools. This growth has been facilitated by the high rate at which private schools are being perceived as more effective in the provision of knowledge compared to public schools. Tucker and Codding (2002) think that the transformation will substantially benefit private schools by increasing their financial strength. Therefore, it will be relatively easy for private schools to expand geographically. Consequently, private schools will be required to incorporate effective school leadership to attain the intended growth (Renihan & Phillips, 2003). Hence, projections show that Al-Andalus is yet to experience exponential growth if the management team adopt and implement education reforms as per the strategies that the school has formulated.

In its operations, Al-Andalus experiences several challenges that may limit its growth. Some of these challenges relate to managing growth, a relatively high teacher to student ratio, new government laws, and a lack of work-life balance amongst teachers. The high demand for quality education has led to growth in student enrollment in Al-Andalus. The school has markedly improved its curriculum to meet the student education demand. Currently, the school teaches children from kindergarten to12th grade. The rise in diversity within the work environment has motivated the school management to incorporate new courses and curriculums such as American Diploma and the Egyptian curriculum. The school also teaches the Saudi curriculum. Given the increasing number of students and incorporation of new courses, Al-Andalus faces the challenge of maintaining the teacher-student ratio at the standard ratio that is critical for students to learn well. Additionally, maintenance of the ratio is important because it alleviates the stress that teachers have in dealing with large classes. Thus, maintenance of the teacher-student ratio is imperative in improving the quality of education and enhancing the welfare of teachers.

The school operates as a business entity and thus all its operations are geared towards profit maximization. Therefore, growth is a welcome phenomenon. However, the high rate of growth being experienced has become a challenge to the school’s founders about managing the growth. The school management has to recruit additional staff to satisfy the requirements of the new lines of the curriculum. Moreover, the management has to acquire or put up new premises and other learning facilities, which come at an additional cost. To meet the needs of the rising number of students, the management established three different schools in various cities in Saudi Arabia. For Al-Andalus to manage these schools well, it must have enough resources so that students can receive all necessary learning materials, and enjoy a favorable environment for teaching and learning.

The current teacher to student ratio in Al-Andalus is 1 to 10. However, the average student to teacher ratio in most schools around the world is 1 to 16. The high teacher to student ratio presents a challenge to the school’s founders for it is expensive to maintain a large number of teachers. Since students are increasing exponentially, the teacher-student ratio might drop because the school might not remain in tandem with the increasing population. A reduction in the teacher-student ratio is very critical because it has an impact on both teachers and students. Teachers would have to work extra hard to meet the demanding needs of a large number of students, thus straining themselves, and eventually undergo burnout. Moreover, students would struggle to gain knowledge from a limited number of teachers, which is quite strenuous and discouraging. Ultimately, the quality of education decreases due to poor learning that occurs in the school.

Over the past decade, the Saudi government has increasingly become cognizant of the fact that education is crucial in the country’s growth. This realization has led to the formulation of numerous legal reforms that are affecting the education sector. The government increased the minimum wage for teachers from S.R 2000 to S.R 5000 this year in a timely move to motivating teachers. This aspect poses a problem to school owners and directors because they have to comply with the law by adhering to the legal requirement of the minimum wage. Complying with this law means that there is a high probability of schools experiencing financial constraints because there is a huge gap between the normal wages that teachers earn and the minimum wage set by the government.

The school’s founders also face the task of ensuring that they incorporate the concept of work-life balance. Currently, the school’s working environment does not motivate employees to execute their duties more efficiently and effectively. The school’s employees do not feel that the contemporary working environment is enjoyable enough. This aspect makes it evident that school management does not appreciate the importance of ensuring that employees achieve work-life balance. According to Williamson and Massey (2008), a working environment that is not enjoyable leads to an increase in employees’ stress levels. Consequently, the employees’ level of productivity is negatively influenced. However, efficient implementation of work-life balance in an organization results in a healthier and happier workforce thus increasing the probability of the firm attaining its goals. One of the aspects that the school’s founders should consider is the adoption of best management practices such as incorporating flexible-working hours and creating a friendly working environment. Such policies will significantly increase the employees’ satisfaction level. However, due to cultural factors and socioeconomic conditions in Saudi Arabia, teachers do not have flexible working hours and thus they do not strike a balance between work and life, unlike in the United States where the motivation of teachers is a key element in improving teaching.

Background

The education sector in Saudi Arabia has undergone an extensive transformation over the past two decades (Cordesman, 2010). One of the main aspects that have become dominant in the sector includes improving the sector’s capacity to teach the increasing young population. Secondly, the sector is grappling with the challenge of ensuring that it enhances the country’s economic growth by imparting relevant skills to students. The public school system accounts for the largest percentage of all schools in Saudi Arabia. A study conducted in 2009 showed that 90 percent of all students in Saudi Arabia attend public schools (Oxford Business Group, 2009). This aspect shows that Al-Andalus School is facing stiff competition in Saudi Arabia because it is one of the private schools, which compete for the remaining 10 percent of students.

However, despite the competition, the recent regulatory developments in the country are fueling the growth of private schools. Also, the high quality of education provided in private schools is stimulating a high rate of student transfers from public to private schools. Parents are becoming more concerned with the quality of education their children receive; therefore, there is a high probability of parents preferring private schools to public schools in the future (Alpen Capital, 2012). This phenomenon is increasing the challenges faced by private school directors and principals. Being one of the private schools in Saudi Arabia, the founders of Al-Andalus Private School are experiencing different challenges arising from changes in the education sector. The paper evaluates the case of Al-Andalus Private School to understand the challenges experienced in Saudi Arabian schools.

Literature Review

Education is central to the development of human resources. For countries to utilize optimally economic resources bestowed to them by nature, they must ensure that they have appropriate human resources (Dennison & Shenton, 1987). Thus, many countries across the world are grappling with ways of enhancing the education system to achieve the desired objectives of transforming human resources for the benefit of society. Countries have realized that the quality of education is a fundamental factor that defines the ability of society to emancipate itself from poverty and ignorance, which are socio-economic issues that diminish the quality of life. Therefore, to empower people in society, countries have dedicated a significant part of their budget to the education sector and devised effective educational curriculum and structure to improve the quality of education that people receive.

Moreover, governments have also enacted policies and legislations to ensure that education is affordable and accessible to all students without undue discrimination. According to Dennison and Shenton (1987), policymakers in the education sector have noted that the quality of K-12 teachers is central in improving the quality of education in elementary and secondary schools because such teachers hold managerial positions, which are important in implementing reforms. Therefore, due to the significance of K-12 education, different countries employ different educational curriculum and structures in their education systems with the prime objective of improving both the quality and quantity of education they provide to students.

In the modern world, developing countries like Saudi Arabia have come to appreciate education as the pillar of economic, social, and political progress. In the past, developing countries did not recognize the essence of education is developing their social, political, and economic aspects of development. Current changes in education systems across the world have compelled education systems in developing countries to keep abreast with those in developed countries. In this view, the government of Saudi Arabia has made significant changes in its education system by ensuring that it is in tandem with reforms in developed countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. The significance of education reforms in Saudi Arabia is evident in the way the government has compelled both public and private schools to improve the quality and quantity of education. The education system of Saudi Arabia has sacrificed the quality of education for quantity, thus lowering educational standards (Cordesman, 2010). For the education system to improve the quality of education, it must conduct comprehensive reforms in various aspects such as enhancing management practices, complying with government regulation, improving the working environment, motivation of teachers, hiring more teachers, and increasing learning resources.

Management of modern schools has become very challenging and demanding because of dynamics in the education system. The education system in the modern world is so dynamic and competitive since many learning institutions have come up both in private and public sectors. Education is gaining an international perspective while taking economic dimensions. Learning institutions are struggling to keep abreast with global competition, changing demographics, and meeting the expectations of both students and parents. Consequently, the management teams of schools often strive to meet new demands that emanate from local and international levels. New demands require an effective management team that is not only responsive but also dedicated to effecting reforms in schools as per the dynamics of the education system. Management teams experience significant setbacks and frustrations when setting strategic plans and aligning them to the dynamics in the education system (Lorange, 2002). Therefore, keeping abreast with management challenges in the modern world is very complex and quite demanding. Effective management teams must be in place for them to formulate feasible strategic plans and implement them in line with the prevailing dynamics in a given education system.

Critical analysis of education systems across the world indicates that the best learning institutions have huge resources, which are critical in enhancing the quality of education. Schools with limited resources have always performed poorly because students cannot access essential materials that are critical for learning. In Saudi Arabia, leading schools in both public and private sectors have huge resources. The resources enable the school management teams to build infrastructure and employ qualified teachers. Infrastructural facilities such as classrooms, libraries, and recreation facilities give an upper hand to schools in improving educational performance as well as the development of children. Additionally, the availability of qualified teachers at a favorable ratio is important because it reflects the capacity of the schools to equip students with knowledge. Al-Farsy (1986) asserts that limited resources have contributed to the poor performance of students in developing countries. The education system in developing countries is unable to distribute minimal resources to various public schools and satisfy the needs of all students. Likewise, private schools like the Al-Andalus School are trying to use minimal resources that they obtain from students in funding various activities in the school.

Across Saudi Arabia, private schools are enterprises that aim at deriving profit from the education system. For private schools to derive optimal profits from the education system, they must demonstrate to the ministry of education and the public that they have the potential to equip students with essential knowledge as their counterparts, viz. the public schools. In doing this, private schools must first seek a license of operation from the appropriate department in the ministry of education. The license qualifies a private school as a standard school with the capacity to provide relevant and quality education, which is in line with the developed curriculum in a given country. Differences in the curriculum have contributed to the poor performance of students. Although students can perform well under one curriculum, they might perform very poorly under another curriculum. Hussain (2007) argues that the curriculum of Saudi Arabia receives lots of criticism due to its biases towards religious and humanities studies. Hence, there is a need for the government to streamline the educational curriculum so that students can achieve relevant and quality knowledge as other students across the world. In this view, private schools have to comply with the curriculum requirements as well as other demands that the government has set in Saudi Arabia.

Owing to globalization and the realization that the education system is central in empowering Saudi Arabians, the government initiated comprehensive reforms. Currently, educational reforms have become part of the economic development blueprint in the ministry of economy and planning (Ministry of Education, 2012). Implementation of the economic development blueprint would enhance reforms in the education sectors. The reforms emanated from the fact that the enrolment rates of students in both public and private schools have been very low. As the ministry of education enhanced infrastructure, the enrolment rates of students increased, but many of the students performed poorly. According to Hussain (2007), “despite positive enrollment results, Saudi schools continue to produce less than capable graduates, adding to the ranks of the unemployed” (p. 1). Following the September 11, 2001 terrorism attack on the US, the international community started questioning the nature of the education system that Saudi Arabia provides to students because it seemed to favor terrorism and extremism. Hence, both internal and international factors compelled Saudi Arabia to reform its education system.

In Saudi Arabia, the Islamic religion has a significant influence on the development of the education system. The debate has been raging over the past decade concerning education reforms in Saudi Arabia. While some view education reforms as a means of achieving educational empowerment of the people, some perceive it as a way of secularizing the Islamic religion. The conservative views hold that Islamic education is imperative because it provides spiritual and social guidance to students, thus making them grow as good citizens. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attack, it became evident that out of the 19 hijackers, 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia.

Thus, the international community pressurized the Saudi Arabia government to implement education reforms to dispel extremist ideologies that have perverted the minds of many students. Analysis of the Saudi Arabian educational curriculum indicates that it focuses mainly on Islamic teachings, which have elements of anti-Semitism and anti-Christian while foregoing standard curriculum that is critical in the development of students (Cordesman, 2010). Following the analysis, the Saudi Arabia government started reforming its education system to comply with the international standards, thus compelling both public and private schools to reform.

The motivation of teachers is a critical issue that schools should consider when implementing comprehensive reforms. Even though learning institutions may provide all learning materials to students and teachers, lack of motivation has overwhelming effects on the performance of teachers. Lack of motivation among teachers is one of the common learning barriers in most schools. Often, the management of a school overlooks the impact of motivation on teachers, but numerous studies have revealed that motivation is central in improving educational performance among students in any school (Stolovitch, Clark, & Condly, 2011; Khan, 2011). The motivation of teachers enhances customization of teaching and learning to meet the individual needs of students. Motivation is “one of the basic conditions which achieve the goal of the learning process, learning ways of thinking, the formation of attitudes and values, collection of information, and problem-solving” (Khan, 2011, p. 243). Schools that perform well have motivated their teachers using various means, which include paying high salaries, providing flexible working hours, and creating a friendly working environment.

In schools where there is a lot of work due to the increased number of students, there is burnout among teachers. Since private schools in Saudi Arabia have attracted a considerable number of students from private schools, they have reduced the teacher-student ratio. Teachers have to work extra hard while using extra time in providing instruction in a bid to provide educational services to an increased number of students. With time, teachers will exhaust their energies, and their performance will depreciate with time. Hence, motivation comes in as a remedy for encouraging teachers to sustain their work despite the increased work. Increasing teachers’ pay to be commensurate with the level of the work that they perform is one way of motivating teachers. According to Evans (1998), performance-related pay is in line with the expectancy theory of motivation, which postulates, “Individuals are more likely to put effort into their work if there is an anticipated reward they value” (p. 42). The proponents of the expectancy theory hold that improvement of educational performance requires the motivation of teachers using pay increase.

However, monetary rewards have negative consequences on the performance of teachers. An increase in pay does not mean that there will be a proportional increase in academic outcomes. According to Evans (1998), monetary rewards control the behavior of employees directly, thus reducing the employees’ intrinsic motivation. Many principals are unaware of other means of motivating teachers because they think that money is the only way to motivate them. Therefore, principals should use several non-monetary rewards when motivating teachers such as providing recommendation letters, congratulating them, promoting them, and enabling them to participate actively in the decision-making process. Such rewards promote intrinsic motivation amongst teachers. Stolovitch, Clark, Condly (2011) argue that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation contributes to higher performance among teachers. Hence, the use of both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards motivates teachers to work hard and produce quality results.

The teacher-student ratio is a significant factor that influences the academic performance of students. Schools with a high teacher-student ratio perform better than schools that have a low ratio. Many schools across Saudi Arabia have a low teacher-student ratio because they cannot afford to hire more teachers. Comparatively, private schools have a high teacher-student ratio when compared to public schools that have a low ratio. The quality of education that private schools offer as reflected by academic performance and preference by parents is attributed to the high teacher-student ratio. A study done to establish the impact of class size on educational performance indicated that students minimize their interaction in large classes because they do not get the attention that is available in small classes (Blatchford, Bassett, & Brown, 2011). Schools with a low teacher-student ratio do not perform well because teachers find it hard to satisfy the unique needs of learners. After all, while some students learn slowly, others learn fast. Therefore, teachers are unable to satisfy the needs of slow learners and fast learners in large classrooms where the teacher-student ratio is very low.

The literature review has examined several challenges that schools are dealing with within the course of improving the performance of students. It indicates that schools experience a myriad of challenges that emanate from management, government, teachers, social and religious aspects, as well as economic aspects. In Saudi Arabia, both private and public schools experience similar challenges. However, private schools experience extra challenges because they rely on limited resources that students contribute, unlike public schools that receive financial support from the government. Therefore, the study examines the case of Al-Andalus School, a private school in Saudi Arabia with the view of describing its challenges and providing appropriate recommendations to the school.

Research Methods

Research design

The objective of this research is to explore the challenges that Al-Andalus School faces in Saudi Arabia. The integration of a research design in conducting a study enables the study to be logical thus resulting in appropriate findings (Maxwell, 2005). In conducting the study, a qualitative research design will be used, which will enable researchers to acquire substantial information. The selection of qualitative research design is taken into account due to the explanatory nature of the research. Qualitative research design is also considered as a detailed design, which enables the research to provide an in-depth assessment of the issue under consideration. Moreover, the research employs a qualitative research framework because there is no definite procedure for conducting the study by utilizing this research design. Qualitative research design is a multi-method of research, which is interpretive. Besides, the qualitative research design is naturalistic, which means that the researchers conducted a study on the subject matter by considering the natural setting.

Additionally, the study will adopt a quantitative method to aid in the collection of quantitative data such as the number of students and teachers that are in Al-Andalus. Adoption of a quantitative research design will allow the gathering of a wide range of information. Therefore, the incorporation of a quantitative research design is necessary for the study to gather enough information regarding the challenges that Al-Andalus School is facing in Saudi Arabia. Analysis of both quantitative and quantitative data will provide a comprehensive of problems and challenges that the school is grappling with, thus helping the management to design appropriate interventions to overcome the challenges.

Sampling

In a bid to obtain appropriate data about the school, the study will use the convenience-sampling method in targeting students, teachers, and management team. Convenience sampling relies on the availability of subjects or their ability to respond to questionnaires and interviews. As the study deals with a limited number of subjects in one school, Al-Andalus, the conventional method of sampling is appropriate because it increases the number of subjects, thus enhancing the collection of enough information about the school.

Moreover, convenience sampling is prone to the researchers’ biases, which is also common in other sampling methods. In this view, the researcher will administer questionnaires to all subjects, students, teachers, and management team, who will be available in the school at the time of the study. However, due to the literacy levels of students, the researchers will administer questionnaires to students from 6th grade through to 12th grade. Convenience sampling is advantageous because “It is an easier, less expensive, and more timely technique than probability sampling techniques, which are quite laborious” (Gravetter & Forzano, 2011, p. 151). Thus, convenience sampling is appropriate for the study. However, in the case of interviews, the researchers will select few subjects randomly from the subjects of the study.

Data collection

The researchers will utilize both primary and secondary sources of data by collecting data using questionnaires and interviews to obtain reliable data and valid research findings. In the questionnaires, the researchers will use semi-structured questionnaires consisting of both close and open-ended questions for students, teachers, and management team respectively, as shown in appendix A, B, and C. Close-ended questions in the questionnaires are important in deriving specific questions from the respondents, while open-ended questions will allow respondents to exercise freedom in responding to the questions. A significant part of the questions in the questionnaires will be open-ended so that researchers can derive as much information as possible from the subjects of the study. Before administering questionnaires, the researchers will review them before distributing them to the respondents. Additionally, researchers will conduct face-to-face interviews with selected respondents to gain insights into further challenges faced by Al-Andalus School in Saudi Arabia.

Findings and Data analysis

The research questions considered in conducting the study will be analyzed individually. Since researchers will collect voluminous data as most of the data collected from the field will be in descriptive form, they will use an effective data analysis and presentation method, which considers several variables relevant to the study. As most of the data in the questionnaires are in a qualitative form, the study will analyze and describe its implication on the school. In this view, the study will use inferential methods in providing an analysis of the findings derived from the questionnaires.

The findings indicate that Al-Andalus School is growing gradually because of the increasing number of students. The questionnaires that students filled indicate that most of the students have stayed for a short period in the school. This implies that a significant number of students are newcomers because some have just spent less than four years in Al-Andalus School, yet they are in the 12th grade. When asked what made students join Al-Andalus School, most of them cited good academic performance. The good academic performance that the school has reported in the past five years has attracted many students from both private and public schools. Since public schools record poor performance, most of the students had transferred from these schools. After noting outstanding academic performance, parents advised their students to join Al-Andalus School. Hence, Al-Andalus School has an impressive image among parents and students, thus attracting other students.

After students joined Al-Andalus School, they have improved their academic performance. The questionnaires indicate that about 90 percent of students admitted that Al-Andalus School has transformed their development because they have made significant improvements in their academic performance. They attribute their performance to available learning material, teacher-student ratio, and a friendly environment. In the questionnaire, most students indicated that they have enough teachers and many books in their libraries. Moreover, they perceive school management as doing well in addressing challenges that the school is facing. Owing to these attributes, students are not willing to leave Al-Andalus School because of the satisfaction that they derive from the school. In essence, the school provides a good quality of education, which is lacking in many schools, whether private or public schools. However, students cited that the increasing number of students is posing a threat to the teacher-student ratio, which has helped them to improve their studies.

Questionnaires filled by teachers provided significant information about the school regarding their perception and experiences of Al-Andalus School. Teachers confessed that the attractive remuneration package convinced them to work in Al-Andalus School. Although the remuneration package may be similar or lower than what the government offers, teachers find satisfaction because the school has a high teacher-student ratio. This aspect means that teachers do not perform a lot of work, which could lead to burnout. Most teachers cited that their motivation while working in Al-Andalus School comes from the availability of teaching materials, the average amount of work, and a friendly working environment. Hence, most teachers prefer working in Al-Andalus School than in other schools, whether public or private schools. Regarding management, a considerable number of teachers confessed that the management of the school is dwindling because of new dynamics in education. The management team slows the process of complying with education reforms that the government is advancing

Most teachers in Al-Andalus School have over two years of experience in teaching and they have undergone relevant training to qualify them as teachers. The high academic performance as indicated by students is an attribute that emanates from the caliber of teachers that the school has hired to teach students. Teachers mentioned that the major challenge that the school is grappling with is the accommodation of excess students who have expressed their willingness to join Al-Andalus School. Although the school has not hired new staff and expanded infrastructure, the student population has increased.

The hiring of new teachers and the expansion of classes are very expensive such that the school cannot afford. Therefore, to satisfy the academic needs of the increased number of students, the current teachers should work extra hard by sacrificing their time, which means that Al-Andalus School should provide additional pay as compensation for extra work that teachers perform. Therefore, teachers recommend that Al-Andalus School should employ more teachers and expand infrastructure as a way of catering to an additional number of students that have expressed their willingness to join the school. Moreover, teachers recommend that Al-Andalus School should motivate them by increasing their pay and providing them with a flexible working schedule and a friendly working environment.

In the questionnaires, the management team has served in the school for more than 3 years. Their management experience has enabled them to maneuver through the challenges that have rocked the school since its inception. Most of the management team members indicated that they joined their management positions following promotion that they earned from their teaching positions. This means that the management team members understand the challenges that the school has been facing, and thus they are in a position to handle them. Some of the management team members asserted that Al-Andalus School is the best private school in the region because it provides quality education to students from various social and religious backgrounds. Its nobility in Saudi Arabia emanates from the fact that it has the highest teacher-student ratio, which is central to improving academic performance. Currently, the academic performance of the school is setting trends in both public and private schools. Hence, teachers, parents, and students envy being members of Al-Andalus School because of its image across Saudi Arabia.

The management also hinted that although it has tried to maintain the teacher-student ratio to be high, new enrolments of students have diluted the teacher-student ratio and increased pressure on teachers to work extra hard. High demands of the school by students have compelled it to enroll additional students, thus threatening to exceed the capacity of the required students. The management team admitted that the major challenge that the school is grappling with is catering to new students while using the same infrastructures. Moreover, the management team is also facing the challenge of motivating teachers because they are currently performing extra work due to an increase in the number of students. Al-Andalus School has overstretched its resources in a bid to cater to the increasing population of students. Furthermore, the management indicated that it is striving to comply with government regulations, which demands an increase in teachers’ salaries and the adoption of reforms in the education system.

Recommendations

  • Al-Andalus School should manage the challenge of the exponential growth of the school by employing additional teachers and expanding school infrastructure to avoid straining of teachers and other resources. Increasing the number of students without increasing the number of staff and resources proportionately has a detrimental effect on student performance.
  • Since the ratio of teachers to students is important in determining the educational performance, Al-Andalus School should ensure that it maintains the ratio no matter the pressure of increasing the number of students. In this view, the school will be in a position to improve the education performance of students and still maintain the leading position in Saudi Arabia.
  • Teachers play a significant role in equipping students with the knowledge and thus their welfare is central in enabling the school to achieve its mission in the provision of education. Hence, they need motivation from the school in aspects such as increased pay, provision of flexible working schedule, and friendly working environment.
  • Al-Andalus School should also comply with government requirements in reforms so that it can keep abreast with public schools. In aspects such as curriculum development and setting academic standards, the government has outlined numerous prepositions for schools to adopt and implement in a bid to improve the quality of education delivered to students.

Conclusion

By examining Al-Andalus School as a case study, this paper has demonstrated that school directors in Saudi Arabia are experiencing challenges in running their institutions. These challenges emanate from the numerous reforms and transformations being undertaken within the education sector. In a bid to promote the country’s economic growth, the Saudi Arabian government is increasingly considering the education sector as a key factor in attaining the desired growth. This realization has led to the formulation of legal reforms that are affecting schools. The high quality of education in private schools in promoting student transfer from public to private schools and thus private schools are experiencing a high growth rate in student enrollment. The aspect of increased enrollment presents a challenge to school owners in managing the growth. Failure to create an enjoyable working environment is also a serious challenge facing the school. Increased work on the part of teachers is likely to cause burnout and eventually lead to poor performance among students. Hence, Al-Andalus School should reconsider the effects of increasing student population on the available resources and teachers’ capacity in a move to prevent overstretching and exhaustion of teachers and resources.

References

Alam, S. (2007). American Diploma Program: System of education: the American Diploma program basics. Web.

Al-Farsy, F. (1986). Saudi Arabia: A case study in development. London, UK: Routledge

Alpen Capital. (2012). GCC education industry. Web.

Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., & Brown, P. (2011). Examining the effect of class size on Classroom engagement and teacher pupil interaction: Differences in relation to pupil prior attainment and primary vs. secondary schools. Learning and Instruction, 21, 715-730.

Cordesman, A. (2010). Saudi Arabia enters the 21st century. London, UK: Greenwood Publishing Company.

Dennison, W., & Shenton, K. (1987). Challenges in educational management: Principles Into practice. London, UK: Routledge.

Evans, L. (1998). Teacher morale, job satisfaction, and motivation. New York, NY: Sage.

Gravetter, F., & Forzano, L. (2011). Research methods for the behavioral sciences. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Hussain, T. (2007). Student Achievement in Saudi Arabia: The Importance of Teacher Factors. Web.

Khan, I. (2011). An analysis of learning barriers: The Saudi Arabian context. International Education Studies, 4(1), 242-247.

Lorange, L. (2002). New vision for management education: Leadership changes. New York. NY: Emerald Group Publishing.

Maxwell, J. (2005). Qualitative research design: an interactive approach. New Jersey, NJ: Sage Publication.

Ministry of Education. (2012). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Web.

Oxford Business Group. (2009). The report: Saudi Arabia 2009. Oxford, USA: Oxford Business Group.

Renihan, P., & Phillips, S. (2003). The role of the school principal: present status and future challenges in managing effective schools. Kelowna, Canada: Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education.

Stolovitch, D., Clark, E., & Condly, S. (2011). Incentives, motivation work place and performance: Research and best practices. London, UK: Cengege learning.

Tucker, M., & Codding, J. (2002). Principal challenge: leading and managing schools in the era of accountability. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Williamson, A., & Massey, C. (2008). Work-life balance in small business: The impact of firm and family milestone. Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Center for SME Research.

Appendices: Questionnaires

Appendix A

For Students Only

  1. What is your age?
  2. What is your gender
  • Male
  • Female
  1. What is your religion?
  2. What is your grade level?
  3. Have you studied in public school?
  4. What is the difference between public school and Al-Andalus School?
  5. What motivated you to join Al-Andalus School?
  6. When did you join Al-Andalus School?
  • Last six years
  • Between 8 to 10 years
  • Over 10 years
  1. Have you liked the learning environment?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Has your academic performance improved since you came?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you have enough teachers?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you have enough books in the library?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you think the management is doing well in promoting your studies?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you like your class teacher?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. What subjects do you prefer learning?
  2. Do you perceive your school is growing?
  3. Do you participate in extra curriculum activities?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. If given chance in a public school can you leave the Al-Andalus School?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. What are the challenges that Al-Andalus is experiencing?
  2. What changes can you recommend to the school to improve academic performance of students?

Appendix B

For Teachers Only

  1. What is your age?
  2. What is your gender
  • Male
  • Female
  1. What is your religion?
  2. What are the subjects that you teach?
  3. How many years of education have you completed?
  4. What is your academic level?
  5. How many years of teaching experience do you have?
  6. When were you employed in Al-Andalus?
  7. What made you seek employment in Al-Andalus?
  8. Have you ever taught in a public school?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Where do you prefer teaching?
  • Private school
  • Public school
  1. Are you motivated to teach in Al-Andalus?
  2. Does the school have enough learning recourses for you to equip students with essential knowledge and skills?
  3. Have you improved academic performance of students since the time you were employed at Al-Andalus?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. If a public school provides you with teaching opportunity, will you leave Al-Andalus?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Does government influence curriculum of Al-Andalus?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Are you satisfied with remuneration package that Al-Andalus offers to you?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you think the management of the school is performing as expected?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. What are the challenges that you experience in the course of your duties?
  2. What recommendations can you provide to the school so that it can overcome the challenges it experience?

Appendix C

For management team members only

  1. What is your age?
  2. What is your gender
  • Male
  • Female
  1. What is your religion?
  2. What is your management role in the Al-Andalus School?
  3. How many years have you served in the management position?
  4. What made you join Al-Andalus School?
  5. When did you join the school?
  6. At what entry level did you join Al-Andalus School?
  7. What prompted you to ask for employment in the school?
  8. How many students are there in the school?
  9. Does the number of students exceed required capacity?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Is the school still enrolling other students?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Do you collaborate with government in current reforms in the education system?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Which are the reforms that the school has done in the past five years?
  2. What is your teacher-student ratio?
  3. How do you motivate your teachers?
  4. Does the school have enough resources to pay teachers well and build infrastructure?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Does government influence the way schooling management is operating?
  2. In your management position, what are the challenges you have experienced since you took your position?
  3. What are the strategies you have put in place to address challenges that the school is experiencing?