The Theoretical Impact of an Inclusive Classroom in Saudi Arabia

Currently, the classroom situation in Saudi Arabia is segregated between men and women. Women are the disadvantaged group, with less access to resources and more hardship endured while obtaining an education. But, what if the concept of an inclusive pedagogy were introduced in the Saudi education system?

Inclusive pedagogy, as I understand it, is a classroom where the students and teacher cater learning that reaches all students, despite background, style of learning, and ability so that the classroom is a social justice charged, supportive, open environment. The main objective is to create a classroom that allows students to feel like they belong and that they are all equally valued.

The first step towards introducing an inclusive classroom is through integration of the genders in the learning environment. Traditionally, women are not seen as equal in the eyes of society, as well as the law. But more recently has there been a push to bridge that gap and women have started to feel closer to equals with their male counterparts. However, there are still inequalities that women face, and one of those is education. By introducing integration in the classroom, women and men are able to interact, allowing for introduction of more idea exchange and enhanced discussions. The application of an inclusive pedagogy excels that discussion through more progressive ideology and the emphasis on equality for all students. Classroom integration, in theory, would prove vital in promoting social justice and furthering equality for women in Saudi Arabia.

Despite the beginning of bridging the gap between men and women in Saudi Arabia, there is still going to be traditionalist and conservative people who will be against the idea of inclusivity. The desegregation of the classroom would cause backlash from those against the idea, and possibly spark protesting, boycotting, and even extremes like intimidation and violence. This could prevent students from attending classes both because it goes against their beliefs or they are afraid to go to class.

The idea of an inclusive pedagogy in Saudi education could be beneficial and provoke further conversation towards social justice and equality. On the other end, there is still a lot of change that needs to occur in the traditional mindset and in the society, both in Saudi Arabia and the world as a whole to allow the ideas of social justice and inclusivity into not only the classroom, but into the culture.

24 Responses

  1. Hi Khaled,

    I really appreciate your post on several levels. First, because you are spot on with your take on what inclusive pedagogy should be. Second, because you are laying out some difficult truths about the inequities of education in your country while also proposing how inclusive pedagogy can be leveraged for social justice in this contexts. Challenging the status quo is never easy, and in this case, you’re acknowledging the backlash from such a move could possibly be protested and/or violent takes a lot of guts to write “out loud.” I appreciate your willingness to entertain the theoretical impact of a desegregated and inclusive classroom and I am hopeful that you will take what you have learned and will apply it in your future teaching, no matter where on earth you find yourself as a professor.

    1. It is kind of you Sara leaving a great comment, as you said the changing is kind of challenges, but anyway the inclusive pedagogy should be in consideration to have great education and advanced community. Thank you.

  2. Nice post, Khaled. I really liked that you talked about Saudi Arabia’s education system. Women education in India was also really poor 30-40 years back. But many government policies like free compulsory education between 6-14 age has made a huge difference. Women literacy is still 20% lower than men but there has been good growth. But, again this all happened because of public dialogue and recognition of this problem in general. And it took some time and still needs more time and effort.

    1. Thank you for your participation Singh, and I agree with you that changing happened in India because of public dialogue and recognition of this problem in general. Also, in Saudi Arabia, we should do the same, and that needs more time and effort.

  3. Thanks so much for writing about this, Khaled! Your post reminds me that the first step to creating an inclusive classroom is getting rid of policies that segregate. There will still be lots of work to do in those classrooms to make them supportive of all learners, but until and unless people are allowed to learn together – with and from each other – we can’t even begin to speak of inclusive classrooms. I really appreciate you highlighting the challenges women face in Saudi Arabia. Raising awareness is the an important step to making the change happen.

    1. I appreciate your comment Dr. Nelson, and there is more evolution in Saudi education especially with the new vision on the country that has developed by the new king and his son, which is called Vision 2030. So, I think the inclusive pedagogy is taking a big part of that great vision. I totally agree with you “Raising awareness is the an important step to making the change happen”. Thank you so much for participating.

  4. As the others have said, thank for sharing this. I think it is important to keep in perspective that classrooms aren’t the only things that need adjustments. We need to correct the biases and prejudices in the culture if we really want to see change/equality.

    I think that falls into inclusive pedagogy too. Sometimes we need to teach to the streets along with the classrooms. We need to reprimand friends and catch ourselves when those biases pop up. We need to include more than just our students in our teaching, we need to include friends, family, coworkers, ourselves, and others.

    1. Totally agree with you, and the inclusive pedagogy is not just in the classrooms, it should be in our life style. Thank you for comment.

  5. I like it. And it’s so good you are very mindful of the challenges to be inclusive in a conservative environment, much like the integration of school systems during the U.S. Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s & 60’s. Lots of backlash from traditionalists and pro-segregationists. Definite intimidation and violence happened. Even after the 1954 Brown vs Board decision, we still have to discuss it – 65 years later! Old ways die hard. Excellent depth of thought. Thank you

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this Ben, and I appreciate the example that you mentioned to link it with the goal of my post to know that the old ways die hard.

  6. Thanks Khaled for writing this wonderful post ! I agree with you that inclusivity from the school/classroom level is the key for upliftment of women in the society. As Japsimran pointed, situation in India was same just 2-3 decades back but has considerably improved as more and more men are understanding and becoming allies in the process. It’s good to know that Saudi Arabia as well is on the path of progress in this regard.

    1. Thanks Adbhut for participating, and I think some countries have the same issues of inclusive pedagogy. Also, Saudi Arabia is in a big growth of developing the education systems, and this is playing a great role in our live as educators.

  7. Hi Khaled! As many people stated here, I enjoy reading your post and more importantly, I appreciated your thoughts and being very mindful about the existing gender inequality in Saudi Arabia. It is very important to hear from a man speaking for its own country while acknowledging the existing pattern. It is hard to disrupt the hegemonic perspective on it. But hearing from you gives me hope for the possibility of change as it starts from very tiny critical thinking as you did here. Appreciated!

  8. Hi Khaled! I really enjoyed your post. It is interesting to think that something trivial for me like having both males and females in the same classroom is not a standard practice in other countries. It is nice that you see the importance of inclusive classrooms in your country! I wonder how girls feel when they first come to US to study and then for the first time in their life they have males in the classroom!

    1. Thank you for your participation in this post Nayara. I think there is a big transition about the educational culture for Saudi women when they move to study in the U.S.

  9. Thank you for writing about a different educational environment with different perspectives and challenges towards inclusiveness. I think every other country has its own challenges at different levels as we had and still have in Iran as well but the bright side is the newer generation which is more open to accept changes and modify the traditions.

    1. Might you had close situation of this Sgafrouz back home, but as you said “the bright side is the newer generation which is more open to accept changes and modify the traditions.”. Thank you so much for your comment.

  10. Thanks for the post. I have other friends from the middle east that have made similar comments about the gender disparity in education. I believe that with the proper inputs from concerned and caring people women will be granted equal opportunities. I would like to focus on one particular comment that you made. You said “The main objective is to create a classroom that allows students to feel like they belong and that they are all equally valued.” I am impressed by this. To feel belonging is an important, commonly overlooked aspect of equal opportunity. Thanks again.

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