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Saudi Arabia/Evaluating an offer of employment in Yanbu - Education Benefits

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Question
Hi Mark,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to so many questions posted on this site.  Your response is invaluable to all those considering moving to Saudi Arabia, especially Yanbu. I can't give you anything in return, so I beseech Allah (S.W.T)to reward you dearly for your kind service.

I am a USA citizen currently employed in USA. I have received an offer from Marafiq in Yanbu. The offer is not very attractive and I may not take it.  I have two sons ages 5 (Nov 2007# and 3 #August 2009#. My five year old is currently going to KG here in the US.  I believe the company policy states that they will cover up to 4 children at their embassy schools, or equivalent type of educational institutions if not found; for ages #6# up to #18) years old. Does that mean that KG and Pre-K are not covered. Is this normal? Would I have to provide home schooling for my 3 year old once he becomes 4? Would this cause any issue getting accepted in 1st Grade?

Thanks,

Mohammed

Answer
Education for Saudi's is compulsory after age 6.  As such, several companies in the Yanbu area do not pay for private school tuition until after a child turns 6.  For many children that means Pre-school and KG are not covered by company benefits, but, they really mean when they turn six.  So, it depends upon when your child turns six as to when those companies will start paying.  As a side note, they also stop paying when a child turns 18, whenever that may be in their school career.

It causes fairly significant issues in terms of getting into 1st grade.  We have a fairly academic KG program and nearly all of our KG children can read when moving to 1st grade.  This sets the bar fairly high in terms of admissions academically.  There is also the issue of just understanding how to behave in a classroom.  You might get the academics in a homeschool setting but it is really hard to find a large enough group of children in Yanbu who have similar behavioral expectations to our classrooms to get the social experiences.

Lastly, Yanbu has grown so much in the last few years that YIS hasn't been able to keep up.  We are running our of space.  It is possible that you might show up in Yanbu and find the grade level full.

If you find that you decided to take the offer with Marafiq, keep in touch.

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Mark Lasater

Expertise

All kinds of issues dealing with children transitioning to Saudi Arabia (specifically Yanbu and Jubail). This is particularly the case if your moving from the US. Can I find special ed. services in Yanbu? How do my child's High School credits transfer from or to an American or Canadian school? What kinds of activities are available either independently our through schools in the Yanbu/Jubail area? What are the schools like in Yanbu and Jubail?

Experience

My wife and I have spent the last four years in Saudi, three years in Jubail and one in Yanbu. We both work for the International Schools Group. I'm a counselor/vice-principal and my wife is a teacher. We've worked abroad now for 8 years, spending four years in Taskent, Uzbekistan before coming here. However, as I'm part of ISG, I have access to a vast range of experiences and knowledge. ISG has several hundred employees in seven campuses, if I don't know the answer about something educational, I can find somebody who does.

Organizations
National Education Association(NEA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Association of School Counselors (NASC)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor degree in Elementary education-Licensed in Kansas to teach math, reading, science, elementary counseling and secondary counseling (12 years experience in the US), Masters Degree in Counseling, Certified Professional Counselor (Kansas Licensed), currently working on an administrative degree. My Wife-- bachelor early childhood special ed., Masters in Early Childhood Education, Masters in Early Childhood Special ed. 8 years working in early childhood Special ed in the US-- We both have course work in ESL, enough for a license endorsement, but we've not actually done it

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