saudi space education
A poster by the Saudi Ministry of Education about the plan to teach earth and space sciences. Image Credit: The Saudi News Agency

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry has decided to teach earth and space sciences as part of the secondary school curricula in the kingdom starting from the next academic year.

The step comes as two Saudi astronauts completed a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The decision to teach the earth and space sciences aims to promote “students’ positive attitudes” towards space science in line with the best international practices related to curricula, and scientific and national criteria, the ministry said.

“The book on the earth and space sciences will enable students to develop their abilities in nature and applied sciences at the secondary school stage,” the ministry added in a statement.

The new syllabus contains an introduction to the earth and space, exploration of relationship among the earth, air, space, water and living organisms as well as linking important natural phenomena such as solar and lunar eclipses, and moon phases.

The ministry said the introduction of the new subject is part of its “keenness to cope with aspirations and future objectives” aimed to qualify internationally competitive citizens by upgrading learning outputs to keep abreast of world changes, future requirements and labour market needs.

Saudi biomedical scientist Rayyanah Barnawi last month became the first Arab woman to go on a space stint. She joined the male Saudi astronaut Ali Al Qarni and two US colleagues in reaching ISS.

During the trip, they conducted a host of research studies and experiments. While aboard ISS, the Saudi astronauts conducted interactive scientific experiments with Saudi high school students via satellite linkage.