If you think finding school in Riyadh is neverending, is not.

Updated 2011-05-12 10:57

First of all i should warn you: i'm not going to put a list of international schools in riyadh here (maybe in the near future). That could be a little difficult because one of the conclusions of my "little journey" finding a suitable school for my child, is that no one has the same situation -location, fees, returning or not to the original country, etc- and everybody need to adapt the candidates schools to their own. For satisfying that i need to transfer my six pages of a comparison list i already made, but it fixs my needs and my situation. 

Thats why i think is better to introduce and give you tips that can finally be useful for all parents out there, looking for information regarding education of their children. I will give you a guide, so you can start your search, organize your further deeper one, and most important of all, check by yourself and not get tired.

When you arrive a new country for first time, one of the main things can save you from bad moments, is information; information from friends, newspaper, relatives, co-workers and others, who knows more than you about the country. Certainly, all the reading and searching you can make previously helps, but is never enough.

So, in my first three month of this kind of experience, i have learned that blogs and forums also can help you a lot. You need to spend a little time to find the one that is dynamic and suitable for your needs, but of course like decisions in life, the best of all this, is that you always will have the last word.

In my case i noticed many people has this problem finding good international school in Riyadh. The sensitive of the topic (children) and lack of comparison lists and good info may be is the cause of non optimistic comments all over Internet. Then i found a blog http://www.get2knowsaudiarabia.com/2009/07/schools-in-riyadh-saudi-arabia.html that in the firstly beginning help me to make a primary list that i finally completed taking in account my "must have" attributes. After that i became an active reader and contributor, trying to find a new school for my boy and finally i did it with the help of the community and others.

If you have a huge community of your same original country here (indians, pakistan, phillipines, etc) you have almost finished the way. But in the other hand if not, and you think that the previous list is all that you need...it is possibly not. It is all about your "must have attributes" and their match with the objective issues of every school at the moment of your search.

You think you have got the one that fits, but.... if you are a little late, or they increase the fees for next course, or they now don't accept the grade of your child, or they don't accept child that doesn't speak fluent english, you will be almost at the end of heart attack.

Taking in account that there are many international schools (i mean i had more than 50 without including inside compounds) a serious search begin. They even have fees for guarantee the place of your child, so you can imagen then how many children are in waiting list of the "good schools" (remember "good one" depends on your needs).

A few tips
1. Be proactive. The moment you make the search is critical. Reserve a place for next course in april-may, they start registration at this time of the year. It's almost pretty sure that they have in the hand brochures, upgrade info and new fees (if any), so you can work with it. Nevertheless at this moment you need to have your candidates list (not more than 10).
2. How to make the candidates list:
-Make a short list (i called "must have") with the things more important for you (fees, grades,transportation, curriculum -british, american, mixed-, accredited, islamic and arabic studies,native teachers,extracurriculars activities, timings, etc.)
-Take the list of the blog above and you can obtain another list from organizations like British Council or others in your consulate. I was almost ready to call to the department of international education but it wasn't necessary. Maybe my short arabic was the reason.
-With the unified primary list, try to obtain the critical issues for you, in each case. This critical issues is a reduce of 3 or 4 "must have". If you focus on asking the first time about 3 or 4 issues, the search become easier, faster and includes attributes to reduce the list at the same time.
-For me was important the school website, i put it even in the primary comparison chart, but at the end, all the records must have at least telephone numbers.
-Remove that ones that only accept childs of their community if you are not in this case (e.g indians)
-Remove all that doesn't fit with your critical issues.
-Very important: don't discriminate due to a few opinions (becareful with blog anonymous comments), the school website or a photo that you found in Internet. I almost do that, and i almost had to regret it. Finally one of my top 3 it was a "no_one_knows_why" eliminated from the primary list.

With the top 10 in the hand, ask for their location. As you will or already know, in Riyadh is very difficult to go any place without map. Go and check, ask for the rest of the "must have" and OPEN your eyes. See facilities, bathrooms, cleaning, conditions (air conditioning, the hot in summer everyone said is ..."without_words"), extracurricular areas, classrooms, books, discipline and everything you want.

After all this you will be in front of 2 or 3 that fits the best. I am now at this step, but finally i feel i did it, however i need to pay to put final point to this chapter i was thinking a moth ago, it was a NEVERENDING story.

Who knows? May be i can put a blog about comparing results. See you then and meanwhile... enjoy the "journey".

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