The Sultanate of Oman is situated on the Arabian Peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. Its capital is Muscat. The Omani population includes Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), and African ethnicities. Though Arabic is the official language of Oman, English has been adopted as its second language. Baluchi, Urdu, and Indian dialects are also spoken.
A predominantly Muslim country, Oman maintains diplomatic relations with both the Western and Islamic worlds. The majority of its population, roughly 75%, are members of the moderately conservative Ibadhi sect of Islam, distinguishing Oman from the rest of the Islamic world. There are also minority populations of Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, as well as a Hindu population. Although elected Ibadhi imams were at one time the political leaders of Oman, power shifted to the monarchy in the late 18th century and continues to this day.
Oman experienced a modern renaissance in 1970 when Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said came into power. Among his most significant achievements has been a commitment to “education for all”. Prior to 1970, only three schools existed in the country, all built prior to 1960, with less than 1000 students (all male). Sultan Qaboos immediately instituted a number of educational reforms outlined in a series of five-year plans, beginning with the construction of new schools throughout the country. He also recognized the value of educating the female population.
Today, there is compulsory education through grade 10, with the Ministerial Decree of 2006 approving the new post-basic education program (grades 11 and 12). There are over 1000 schools enrolling both male and female students alike. The public schools follow the system of Basic Education followed by secondary school. Some of the private schools, however, follow the British system (O- and A-level system) or offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) program and diploma. Efforts have also been made to eliminate adult illiteracy, and Oman now has an adult literacy rate of nearly 80%.
In 1986, Oman opened its first university, Sultan Qaboos University, and it remains the premier higher educational research institution in the country, offering Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral degrees. There are also a number of private universities and university colleges offering Diplomas, Higher Diplomas, and Bachelor degrees. Sultan Qaboos continues his rule in Oman, and his five-year plans now focus on the quality of education at all levels. For more information about the history of Oman, please visit here.
Today, Oman's secondary education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education while the post-secondary education is overseen by the Ministry of Higher Education.
Primary and Secondary Education
The Cycle One of Basic Education lasts for 4 years (Grades 1-4). The Cycle Two of Basic Education lasts for 6 years (Grades 5-10). Secondary education (Grades 11-12) is composed of both compulsory and elective subjects. It leads to the General Certificate in General Education and to the General Education Diploma in Post-Basic Education. The old system of General Education (Grades 1-12) is still functioning side by side with the new Basic Education one.
Higher education is provided by public and private universities, several specialized institutes, technical and vocational colleges and colleges of education. The university is an autonomous institution. Its governing bodies are the university council and the academic council. All private education institutions and colleges of education are under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education.
There are four undergraduate levels (degree in academic scales) that offer the following qualifications: certificate (one year); diploma (two years); advanced diploma (three years); Bachelor's degree (4 years); graduate diploma (one year after the Bachelor's degree at level 4). At the postgraduate level, the following qualifications are awarded: Master's degree (one-two years after the Bachelor's); postgraduate diploma (one year at level 5); doctorate (two-four years after the Master's degree).
Teacher education at the pre-primary, primary/basic and secondary school levels takes place at one of the Colleges of Education where they obtain the bachelor’s degree and teacher education.