When Sultan Qaboos Ibn Said took power in 1970, the education system in the country was antiquated and completely unsustainable. In addition to the Koran schools which exclusively focused on religion, there were only three elementary boys’ schools headquartered in the country’s cities. At that time, about 900 students were being taught by 30 teachers. Considering the population of about 700 000, the number of students during this time was very small. From the beginning of his reign, Sultan Qaboos planned to lead his people into a time of prosperity and progress. He did, in fact, succeed in this, as a result of utilizing the country’s oil and gas. What’s more, there was also the development of a functioning and successful education system that is partly modeled on the British education system.
Sultan Qaboos Ibn Said himself was educated in England. It is no wonder then that the school system in Oman is modeled in part on the British structure. The school structure is divided into three levels: primary, middle, and upper-level. With an upper-level school diploma, one has the opportunity to study at a higher level education institution, such as the state university.
The importance of the development of the education system to the Omani government is reflected in the fact that high costs are incurred to make education accessible to everyone. More than 1,530 state and private schools employing a good 50 000 teachers enable about 700 000 pupils to achieve a good education level. Education in Oman does not depend on income or background. School attendance is completely free in Oman. About a quarter of civil public expenditure goes into education. Another interesting aspect of educational progress is that about 50 % of the students are girls and young women – a ratio that is also representative of their population size in the country.