May 19, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Rumors flooded social media last month suggesting that end-of-year exams in Saudi Arabia would be moved to accommodate the start of Ramadan on May 25. However, the country’s education minister, Ahmad Al Eisa,  weighed in on the topic, revealing that exams would not be moved after all. Here’s a closer look at the situation, as recently reported by Gulf News.

Dispelling the Rumors

The holy month of Ramadan calls for all physically capable adult Muslims to abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset throughout the observation. Based on the 354-day lunar Muslim calendar, the holidays moves up by 11 days every year and will eventually land in April.

Moving the exams up this year would set a challenging precedent moving forward, according to Al Eisa, who told pan-Arab station Al Arabiya, “Ramadan is a month of piety and charity, but it is like all the other months in terms of education, and students should get used to studying and sitting for exams in all circumstances and conditions. If we try to hold the exams earlier this year, then what should we do next year and the subsequent years when Ramadan is in the middle of the school year? Our students have to adapt.”

The Need for Foreign Teachers

During the Al Arabiya interview, Al Eisa also expressed the value of and need for foreign teachers in Saudi Arabia -- the right foreign teachers, that is. Al Eisa went on to reiterate the importance of choosing only qualified educators.

“We do need international and Arab expertise in our colleges and we cannot do away with it,” said Al Eisa. “Their experiences enrich higher education in Saudi Arabia and represent a significant extension to learning. However, we are also keen on making sure that they fully meet the requirements to hire them.”



Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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