According to the Colliers market overview the K-12 education sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) presents a highly promising landscape for investors, developers and educational operators, especially in light of the ongoing national transformations under Vision 2030. This Vision, spearheaded by the Saudi government, aims to fortify the nation’s educational foundation as a crucial component of its Human Capability Development Program. The significance of this sector is underscored by the Kingdom’s position as the home to the largest school-age population in the GCC region, boasting around 7.5 million children of school age and nearly 6 million students currently enrolled. The potential growth was actively discussed at the Education Investment Saudi networking forum in December 2023.
In 2022, the Saudi government’s commitment to this cause was evident through an investment of USD 53.7 billion in education, the highest allocation within the GCC. This investment is driving a pivotal transformation in the K-12 education landscape, focusing on ensuring quality education and nurturing lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Colliers’ market report titled ‘Overview of the K-12 Education in KSA with a Focus on Riyadh – Unlimited Growth Opportunities’ delves into the current and projected state of the K-12 education market in KSA by 2030. It provides a detailed analysis of the additional seats and schools required to meet future demands. The report is particularly insightful for investors, developers and school operators, shedding light on the myriad opportunities that the market holds.
Key Outcome by Colliers
• The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to see an increase in investments to accommodate new students and enhance the quality of education for those existing
• Gradual shift from Public Schools to Private Schools and from Local Private Branded Schools to International Branded Schools
• The biggest growth is expected in the Riyadh Private Sector (60K – 200K)
• “Affordability” is seen as a major factor influencing the choice of schools
for students across the region and in KSA
• However, there is a sizeable population who can afford a US$ 15 - 20k+
tuition fee in main cities in KSA, especially in Riyadh
• Additionally, adapting new curricula would aid private sector growth; presently the American curriculum is followed, however demand for the IB and British curriculum is expected to grow, especially in Riyadh, due to the expansion of the economy resulting in attracting additional and a wider variety of expatriate families
• French schools will also be expected to be in demand in the main cities in KSA
• AlUla, Red Sea and Neom could potentially be an ideal location for boarding schools
• There is large demand for SEN schools across the Kingdom
• Higher Education demand to shift from traditional fields to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Sciences, Nuclear Energy, Sustainable Energy, Renewable Energy, etc. which requires K-12 education to offer STEAM and STEM based schools
Mansoor added, “Under Vision 2030, education is a cornerstone for the Kingdom’s economic and social growth. The recent relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions has further positioned the education sector as a prime area for investment. However, while the sector offers lucrative opportunities, especially in the private education sphere in Riyadh, it is not without its challenges. These include the high capital expenditure requirements and the necessity of attracting and retaining qualified staff”.
Also according to Colliers the government is placing a strong emphasis on human capital by launching a dedicated Human Capital Development Program (HCDP) as part of the Vision 2030 realisation programs:
• The HCDP includes many ambitious commitments by 2025, including raising the percentage of children enrolled in kindergartens to 40% and increasing the number of Saudi universities ranked among the world’s top 200 to six;
• The government has invested heavily in e-learning, with 9 million students benefiting from distance learning platforms and 300,000 children benefiting from the virtual kindergarten platform;
• Various incentives are offered for the private sector to play a key role in the Kingdom’s education reforms.
These and other related issues were discusses at the Education Investment Saudi networking forum in December 2023 that brought together in Riyadh regulators, investors, education business owners, operators and solution providers to discuss ideas, strategies, technology and partnerships that can achieve the Kingdom's education outcomes.
Regarding the EdEx experience in UAE, where the Education Investment Forum is held yearly in Dubai, Dr Fetter notes: "Both markets are very interesting in all sectors: early years education, K-12, higher education. What I find interesting in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is that local experts are looking for the best practices and examples to run their educational initiatives, and they are very open to sharing experiences. The UAE market, in contrast, is more consolidated and competitive, and consequently less open to exchange. Here in KSA you will find the best of the Arabic hospitality, which is legendary".
The event provided attendees with vital information on how they can do business, as well as create dialogue with key stakeholders who can help facilitate the establishment of new educational institutions in the Kingdom. The Forum featured a dynamic agenda and interactive networking for all of the participants.
Photos: Informa Connect