Yet in 1997/98, over 35,000 primary school-age children (6–11 years) and over 51,000 basic school-age children (6–14 years) were outside the formal education system.
Evidently, the Ministry makes provisions for schooling all those who are willing to attend schools, but the reality at ground level is that a substantial number of school-age children do not enter schools, and/or drop out before completing their primary or basic education.
In the absence of appropriate legislation for compulsory education, free education alone will fall short of achieving the goal of universal primary or basic education.
Sustained concerted effort is needed to raise the primary and preparatory net enrolment rates, and the net intake rate in Grade 1. Literacy: 80% Oman’s sixth and seventh five-year plans aim to eradicate adult illiteracy, teaching Oman’s estimated 108,000 illiterate adults to read and write.
Adult education started in 1974/5. By 2001/2 there were 346 literacy centres in Oman, with 418 male and 5,214 female students, 2, 214 adult education centres had enrolled 8,696 students, and a further 18,540 students signed up for free education.
Oman celebrates annual Arab Literacy Day every January. Government campaigns highlight the consequences of illiteracy for both the individual and society. During World Literacy Year in 1990, incentives were offered to Omani teachers, supervisors and directors.
Students who graduate from literacy programmes to university are honoured by the government, together with ordinary citizens who promote literacy.
In 2000/1, Omani high school graduates were recruited to promote adult literacy in remote areas. The 2001/2 school year saw 127 students – mostly women – trained to promote literacy programmes.
In 1970, there were three schools in Oman, with 30 teachers and just over 900 pupils. Today, there are over a thousand schools.
In 1998/9, Oman introduced a new education system, comprising Basic Education over ten years, and Secondary education for two years. After completing their secondary education, successful students can study at specialist colleges, or at Sultan Qaboos University.
In future, students will be streamed at secondary level, to focus on careers that will require technical and vocational training.
Education, once confined to the governorates of Muscat and Dhofar in 1970, has expanded nationwide. In the 1990s, primary school education spread quickly: by 1995/6, there were 1,046 schools in Oman, including special education schools and private schools.
More than half a million young Omanis – 506,543 students – were enrolled in these schools.
The new Basic Education System consists of two phases: basic education in two cycles i.e. from 5-10 years and from 11-15 years, and secondary education, which extends over two years.
It aims to teach communication and learning skills, critical thinking, science and modern technology. 288 schools will follow the Basic Education System in the 2002/3 academic year.
The second phase of Basic Education was implemented during 2001/2 in 59 schools (30 for boys and 29 for girls), and in five schools open to students who have completed grade four in basic education. The first basic education group will graduate at the end of the 2006/7 school year.
Education reform places new importance on information technology training, even at basic level, and the government has decreed that each course will be assigned to a single teacher in future. Oman encourages private investors to launch schools supervised by the state, but help to reduce government investment in schools. By 2002/3, there were 134 private schools.
Length of program in years: 6 Age level from: 6 to 12 years old
Length of program in years: 3 Age level from: 12 to 15 years old
Length of program in years: 3 Age level from: 15 to 18 years old Certificate/Diploma awarded: Thanawiya Amma (Secondary School Leaving Certificate)
The secondary cycle covers three years with specialization in the Arts or the Sciences in the second and third years.
The course leads to the Thanawiya amma (secondary-school-leaving-certificate). The Secondary Islamic Institute accepts those who have completed their preparatory study in the mosque.
It teaches the same subjects as secondary schools with emphasis on Islam and the Arabic language. All Schools are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education.