Research will focus on the barriers which are faced by female students who are involved in distance education in Saudi Arabia. This research is important since female students face challenges like cultural barriers, lack of funds, poor IT skills and so on while trying to access education in Saudi Arabia.
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This can be attributed to their gender and cultural status in the society (Mhehe, 2004). Unlike their male counterparts, for many years now, they have been denied several privileges in life; one of them being education (Al-Dhuwayan et al, 2000).
To keep up with the pace of rest of the world and to satisfy its internal needs, Saudi Arabia had modified its education system and adapted the western style of education that aims at creating qualified personnel in all the fields of the economy (Plank, 2009). First, it has incorporated the use of Information Technology so as to make education to be more effective and sustainable (Cordesman, 2009).
Another advancement to the education system was to girl child a chance to attend school and gain formal education (Abdulkareem, 2001). That is why the government of Saudi Arabia, under the ministry of higher education, has adapted the use of e-learning in its universities (UWN, 2011). Many academics and analysts have argued that this move will transform the level of education in the country and give female students a higher chance of getting high quality education (Yahia, 2011).
However, there are still some setbacks which make this dream to be unrealistic for many female students in Saudi Arabia, especially those who are under distance education scheme. Barriers to distance education learning include: time constrains, cultural influences, financial obstacles and incompetence in information technology (Mhehe, 2004).
According to Mhehe (2004) most of these female students are either mothers or wives (p. 5). They therefore spend a good part of their day attending to their family issues. In the process, they become tired and have limited time for their studies. This affects their performance.
There are still those families and cultures that still deny their females the right to education. Mhehe (2004) went further and said that this might be because they view education as not necessary to the lives of women.
They still believe that the role of women in the society is to take care of their families. To add on that, most female students are not computer literate therefore accessing education on an online basis is difficult (Cordesman, 2009).
To answer the problems that have been presented above, this study will try to answer the following questions:
- Will distance education bring about positive impacts to the lives and careers of female students in Saudi Arabia?
- What are the main factors that contribute to the development of barriers that are experienced by female students in distance learning?
- What corrective mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that the problem does not prevail in future?
I will use semi structured interviews to collect data from my respondents. To add on this, questionnaires will also be administered to the target group. In order to construct a questionnaire that will be precise and straight to the point, qualitative data has to be analyzed and interpreted first.
This information will assist in the making the questionnaire making it to become more powerful in the collection of quantitative data. The resulting questionnaire therefore will be precise, flexible and be able to collect only the relevant data that is needed for the research study.
Abdulkareem, R. (2001). Supervisory Practices as Perceived by Teachers and Supervisors in Riyadh Schools, Saudi Arabia. Unpublished M.Phil dissertation, University of Ohio.
Al-Dhuwayan, M., Zahrani, A., and Ghanim, A. (2000).The priorities of educational research in the Ministry of Education. Riyadh: Ministry of Education.
Cordesman, A. (2009). Saudi Arabia: national security in a troubled region. London, ABC-CLIO.
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Mhehe, E. (2004). Women Overcoming Barriers to Learning by Distance at the Open University Of Tanzania.Open University of Tanzania. Arusha: Open University of Tanzania.
Plank, D. (2009) Handbook of education policy research. New York, Taylor & Francis.
UWN. (2008). Saudi Arabia: E-Learning Education Shake-Up. Universityworldnews. Retrieved from https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20080529145753433
Yahia, M. (2011) Religious resistance to education overhaul in Saudi Arabia. House of Wisdom. Retrieved from http://blogs.nature.com/houseofwisdom/2011/04/religion_resistance_to_educati.html