The Ministry of Education is in charge of managing the school education in all stages (Grades1-12). The Ministry’s responsibilities include the development of education policies, curricula and schoolbooks, development of student performance assessment mechanisms; overseeing the work progress in schools and providing technical and administrative support for teaching and administrative personnel in schools. The Directorates General of Education across all governorates are in charge of the implementation of the Ministry’s plan, and in return, the Ministry is gradually working towards conferring more financial and administrative powers to these Directorates.
School Education System:
The School Education System comprises pre-school education, public and private school education.
1) Pre-School Education:
The Ministry of Education attaches great importance to pre-school education and is keen to increase enrollment rates in that cycle through engaging the private sector to provide this service. In the 2004/2005 academic year, the Ministry implemented the pre-school classes in the first cycle (1-4) of basic education government across schools in remote areas where kindergartens are unavailable.
Since the 2008/2009 Academic Year, the Ministry of Education has been responsible for the technical supervision of all schools and centers that provide pre-school education programs which had been supervised by several government institutions. In the current school year, the Ministry also assumed full responsibility for the private schools that provide pre-school programs, including licensing and the recruitment of teaching, technical and administrative staff. This has resulted in many benefits, the most important of which is the development of policies on curricula and qualifications of teachers, the application of national standards of education, the proportion of students to teachers and the number of teaching hours, and the quality of resources and facilities.
2) Public School Education:
Public school education comprises the following:
A- Basic Education: Divided into two cycles:
- Cycle 1 (Grades 1 – 4): Students of both sexes are taught in the same classes. The staff in these schools is exclusively females.
- Cycle 2 (Grades 5 – 10): Male and female students at this level are taught in separate schools. Accordingly, the staff can be either made up of males or females.
B- Post-Basic Education (Grades 11-12): It represents the education in grades 11 and 12 after the completion of the second cycle of basic education in terms of teaching students by either male or female instructors.
C- Continuing Education: This is a type of public school education and includes:
- Literacy Programs: Three-year school programs, following which graduates obtain a Free from Illiteracy Certificate, equivalent to completing Grade 6 of basic education, and may proceed to Grade 7.
- Adult Education: Starting from the Grade 7 till Grade 12. Adult education is divided into regular schooling at the centers and free home schooling.
3) Private School Education:
The Ministry is in charge of the technical and administrative supervision of private schools. That is in terms of examining and approving the educational programs and curricula adopted in private schools. There are several types of schools offering private education:
- Monolingual, bilingual and international schools.
- International schools which offer educational programs and curricula accredited by international education systems/bodies.
Quantitative Accomplishments (Enrollment in School):
Over the past 48 years, the education system has seen major developments. The government’s considerable investment in education has proven to be effective. By the 2019-2018 academic years, the number of schools reached (1124) schools, offering education to (579024) male and female students and employing (56385) male and female teachers.
Statistical indicators confirm the Sultanate’s commitment to achieving the goals of Education for All such as: Enabling children to complete primary education, as the Sultanate recorded over (98%) in net enrolment ratio. As for gender equality in school education, the Sultanate has achieved this goal two decades ago. Regarding the expansion and improvement of early childhood care and education, the Sultanate could raise the enrollment rate in education to reach (50%) today. Finally, with regard to reducing the illiteracy rate among Omanis for the age group (more than 15 years), the percentage dropped to approximately (4.31%) among males and (9.08%) among females in 2017.
Special Education Schools and Programs:
The Ministry of Education has been stepping up its efforts to provide diverse educational services and programs to cover all social groups. The Ministry’s efforts are materialized in the support provided to special education schools and programs. These services are targeting students with disabilities (motor, visual, hearing and intellectual), as well as students with special needs (learning difficulties and speech-language impairment). The Ministry has launched several initiatives aimed at developing the services provided to these students through the following schools and programs:
- Special Education Schools: they comprise three schools: Al Fikriyah School for students with intellectual disabilities, Al Amal School for students with hearing disabilities and Omar Bin Al Khattab Institute for the Blind.
- Addressing Learning Disabilities in Schools Program: This was implemented in 2000/2001, then expanded to schools offering programs for the Cycle 1 (grades 1-4) and grade 9 of basic education.
- The Integration of Children with Disabilities Program in basic education schools: the Ministry implemented this program starting from 2005/2006 academic year by opening separate special classrooms for students with hearing and intellectual disabilities. The program was expanded to cover all the Governorates across the Sultanate.
- Speech-Language impairment Program: The program aims to provide diagnostics and therapeutic services to students with speech and language impairments through visits conducted by speech-language pathologists to targeted schools.
- (Total / Partial) Integration Program of students with autism disorder in general / basic education schools.
This is a program to integrate children with autism was initiated in the academic year 2016/2017. The program aims to provide educational and rehabilitative services to support these students to integrate them into the school environment to become more effective in the community. The program also aims to promote effective community participation for sustainable development. The program was implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development, Sultan Qaboos University and Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.
The Ministry is currently developing a strategy for the implementation of comprehensive education in its broadest sense in cooperation with UNESCO and UNICEF, where a study has been carried out to identify the challenges facing its implementation.
Education System Evaluation:
The Ministry of Education in cooperation with international research institutes conducted several studies aimed at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the education system. The following are among the most notable studies: “Education in Oman: The Drive for Quality,” conducted in 2012, in cooperation with the World Bank. In 2013, the Ministry conducted an extensive study entitled “Evaluation of the education system in Oman for 1-12” in cooperation with the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. The two studies concluded with a number of proposals and recommendations which the ministry benefited from as starting points for achieving quality in education. The Ministry also began the drafting of the document of the general framework for education policy development along with its implementation plans.
Main Developmental Projects
The Ministry of Education is fully aware of the idea that, in order to fulfill its ambitious aspirations and objectives aimed at achieving Education for All quality, it needs to usher in a complete and large-scale transformation, as well as undertake a substantial improvement of its capacities and capabilities in order to implement its policies and projects for developing the School Education System in the Sultanate. The following are the most notable projects adopted in the past few years:
Established in 2008, its mission is to promote the quality of educational and pedagogical services offered to students to prepare them for higher education and future employment according to their interests and capabilities, as well as supporting entrepreneurship, promoting the entrepreneurial projects culture and highlighting the importance of self-employment for students.
The idea behind the establishment of this center is derived from the need to develop high-quality examinations and evaluation tools to assess the performance of the education system in general and school education in particular. Furthermore, the center aims to promote the student learning achievement level by providing credible indicators on the students’ real learning performance and developing educational evaluation and examinations tools as one of the main pillars of the Education System. The Education Council, in its second meeting 2016, issued a directive to complete the establishment of the center, in cooperation with the competent bodies.
Inaugurated in June 2014, the center is in charge of improving the teachers’ quality, promoting their skills and measuring their performance. It carries out specialized programs aimed at training teachers according to international standards and developing clear mechanisms and plans for training them and monitoring their performance in the field of education.
This center was established as approved by the Education Council in 2015. It is considered an advanced level of the school performance development system initiated by the ministry in the 2002/2003 academic year. The center is in charge of reviewing the internal and external evaluation framework, setting comparative standards based on the best international expertise, developing a systematic strategy for conducting a transparent, accurate, and credible internal and external evaluation according to national performance standards. This system also aims at establishing mechanisms for promoting and monitoring educational practices and providing support to schools so that they can improve their performance.
This was established as per the Ministerial Decision No. (211/2017). It is responsible for rating private schools according to their quality and efficiency in providing educational services in light of the standards in the educational systems in the world. This rating is done by neutral teams to ensure impartial evaluation.
Developing Expenditure on Education:
The Ministry has started reviewing the financial management system so that the decision-making process is based on clear basis. Among the most notable accomplishments in this regard are:
-Participating in a study regarding the public expenditure on education in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank.
- Improving the overall efficiency of the educational system in terms of resources, funding and improving the quality, alignment and equity in educational services, in a cooperation between the Ministry represented by the Oman National Commission for Education, Culture and Science and the International Bureau of Education.
-Expanding decentralization in the financial works by supplying directorates of education with the equipment and software necessary for the financial system users, as well as conferring on them more financial powers.
Improvement of Administrative Performance Quality:
The Ministry has implemented the quality management system according to requirements of ISO 9001 at the Directorate General of Planning and Quality Control and the Directorate General of Administrative Affairs at the Ministry’s headquarter. From the 2016/2017 academic year, the Ministry has begun the expansion of this system to the rest of its sectors.
The quality policy aims to achieve certain goals such as:
Other Developmental Projects:
The Ministry is currently working on a number of developmental initiatives aimed at improving education policies. Among these initiatives are the following:
1. School Education Law.
2. The National Framework for Education including the document of teachers’ professional standards.
3. Data management and performance indicators development.
4. Project of developing and improving the ministry’s online services through the development of the Educational Portal website platform and introduction of many online services to serve the Ministry’s Directorates.