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Saudi Arabia/Children's Admission to YIS


QUESTION: Dear Mark,

Soon my family will arrive at Yanbu for an initial contract of two years. Though the contract was offered sometime in November,12, the documentation verification and visa processes have taken this long a time.

Now that my children, aged 9,6 and 5, will be reaching Yanbu in the last week of March from Pakistan, what are their chances of making it to the YIS during the current session? Two of my children will get educational cover at YIS, hence the first two will be attending the school. Currently at home , in Karachi, Pakistan, they have completed one term of grades 4,1 and KG , respectively. Considering the fact that I will be a working mom, the chances of homeschooling them till the time they would sit for the next grades' assessment are slim.What should be my strategy for my children's enrollment in school as soon as I arrive? What necessary document procedures can I arrange here in Pakistan?

What kind of medical facilities are provided in YIS for any emergency medical help that a child with any breathing anomaly would require? Does the school offer equal opportunity to children who suffer from any allergies or special health needs?

What are other schools that I can evaluate for enrolling my third child?

My salary as has been determined by RC is 10 K +. What viable school options would you suggest for my third child?

ANSWER: Children not currently in school have little to no likelihood of being accepted to YIS.  When young children miss a month of school it puts them so far off the standard track that it is really hard for them to get back on in the same school year. Most of those who apply for admission will be rejected, those children who have missed a substantial amount of school are not in the category that we are likely to accept.

Our KG classroom is currently full for this school year.

Sorry, I wish I could be more positive. Yanbu is growing and all of the schools in the area are feeling the pressure to expand.  We are currently out of space and are having to seriously restrict our enrollment for the next year or two, till we can build a new building.

There are  a number of other schools around Yanbu.

Al-Taweed, Filipino curriculum
Al-Isra, CBSE curriculum up to O levels
Radwa International School, Cambridge Curriculum and with both boys and girls campus in the RC, Boys campus is a new building
Al-Manar International School

Fees for these school all run around 10,000 SAR a year.  Though, rumor has it that Radwa is getting ready to up their tuition significantly to pay for their new buildings.

You also want to be prepared for the Ministry of Education Approval process.  All Pakistani Muslims have to have MOE which takes about a month to complete after you've enrolled somewhere.

Also, for most people, once you're in the country it takes 6 weeks or so to get your work visa, which you have to have to open a bank account.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Surely upsetting it was to have come to know the probable state of affairs at Yanbu as we arrive. There have been quite a few uncontrollable instances which have caused this delay. However, the consolation that I have is the kind of schooling and at home parental assistance that my children have had until now.They have been studying at one of the most promising schools of Karachi, leading to the A-level scheme of studies.

What I am sure of is, if I make my children appear as candidate for the next academic sessions of Grades 5 and 2 respectively,they will be able to meet the threshold of the respective curricula.

My son in grade 1, is a very fluent reader with near native fluency.He has solve basic numerical sums and is familiar with money and time related math everyday problems . On the other hand, my older son of grade 4 is an avid reader too and solves complex mathematical problems as will be expected of him. He reads across the curriculum and is a collector of reading resources for science and pre-historic life.

If children can perform well on the admission tests, could they be considered for the next grade level? I do understand, the current time span that we have, offers no chances for the current academic setting.

Should I visit YIS after my arrival to discuss these issues?

Yes, to all of the above.

The VISA process to gain entrance to Saudi is long and uncertain and for whatever reason, HR departments don't seem to be good at communicating how difficult it can be.  Many people struggle to maintain their children's education in that transition.  However, if you'd ask me in November what not to do, I would have said don't pull your children out of school as you await your visa.  I see children all the time who were great students, 3 months ago when they were last in school.

You should also be aware that we are an American Curriculum School, we do not aim children towards O levels.  I ask people all the time, "where does your child's future lie?"   If you are going to be in Yanbu for the next decade, then maybe we are the school for you.  If you're going to be here for a few years and then move to another setting where you can find a strong American based curriculum school, again, maybe we are for you.  If your going to spend two years in Yanbu and then head back to Pakistan, or if your already know that your children will return to Pakistan for University, maybe we aren't.  You should definitely come and visit and take the tour before you decide if we are the school for you. You should probably also do that at Al-Isra, probably the strongest O level program in town #no one here does A levels, you have to go to Jeddah for that#

There are a number of fine schools in Karachi, which I've dealt with over the years as our Pakistani students transition back to their home systems.  It is possible that your children will have maintained the pace of their learning while not attending school, but, it doesn't happen very often.  We don't turn everyone away, but we do turn away many, who then attend one of the other schools in Yanbu #which, I believe many employers are going to start paying for in the next year, so you might check.#

Come by school when you get into town, look the place over and we can talk about the likelihood of your children making it past our admissions tests for this year and what you can do if they don't.

You asked about children with severe allergies in your first mailing.  We have two children who currently have life-threatening allergies.  We have a nurse who keeps inhalers and the Epi pens for both children.  The hospital is about a kilometer away.  If we had to, we could administer the injections an then run the kids to either the RC hospital or Al-Ansari.  We've never had this happen.  We have, on a couple of occasions, had to run kids to the Emergency room because of broken bones.  The nurse splints it, we load the kid in a car and call the parents and we meet them at the hospital.

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Mark Lasater


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?


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.

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

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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