Oman

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(This entry on Oman incorporate the Re.ViCa/VISCED page on Oman.)

Original Re.ViCa entry by Paul Bacsich; minor updates to VISCED level by Nikos Zygouritsas


>> There is a full 40-page PDF version of the report on OER in Oman - by Charlie Watt - at Media:OER_in_Oman.pdf - this is too complex to convert automatically into a wiki page.

Eventually, before the end of the project, there will be one unified country page.


Partners situated in Oman

None.

Oman in a nutshell

(sourced from Wikipedia)

Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: سلطنة عُمان), is an Arab country in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders the United Arab Emirates on the northwest, Saudi Arabia on the west and Yemen on the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the south and east and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The country also contains Madha, an exclave enclosed by the United Arab Emirates, and Musandam, an exclave also separated by United Arab Emirates territory.

Oman is a very ancient word and appears on very old maps. Little information exists regarding the origin of the word Oman: opinions of Arab geographers and historians differ greatly as to the origin of the name, some sources ascribing it to the Qahtani tribe of Oman and others linking it linguistically to a word meaning "settling" or "staying". Ibn al-Qabi says that Oman means "those who occupy a place", as in the adjective aamen or amoun (settled man), and that the word "Oman" was derived from this.

Others say that Oman was named after Oman bin Ibrahim al Khalil who built the city of Oman. Yet others believe the name to be taken from that of Oman bin Loot. A further explanation is that the Azd, a tribe migrating from Yemen to Oman in pre-Islamic times, labeled Oman "Omana" because they came from a valley in Ma'rib in Yemen which went by the name of Oman, and they likened it to this place.

Chief of state and government is the hereditary sultān, Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said, who appoints a cabinet called the "Diwans" to assist him. In the early 1990s, the sultan instituted an elected advisory council, the Majlis ash-Shura, though few Omanis were eligible to vote. Universal suffrage for those over 21 was instituted on 4 October 2003. There are no legal political parties nor, at present, any active opposition movement. A State Consultative Council, established in 1981, consisted of 55 appointed representatives of government, the private sector, and regional interests.

The Sultanate is divided into nine governorates and regions. Each governorate consists of states which share common cultures, habits, Arabic dialects, history, traditional clothing and traditional occupations.

The Governorate of Muscat is the most densely populated region in the Sultanate with a population of more than half a million. It is Oman's political, economic, and administrative centre.

The Governorate of Dhofar is in the far south of the Sultanate and borders on the Wusta Region the east, the Arabian Sea to the south, the Republic of Yemen to the west and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the north and north-west.

Population

The Ministry of Economy estimates that in mid 2006 the total population was nearly 2.6 million. Of those, 1.8 million were Omanis. The population has grown from 2 million in the 1993 census to over 2.3 million in the 2003 census. In Oman, about 50% of the population lives in Muscat and the Batinah coastal plain northwest of the capital; about 200,000 live in the Dhofar (southern) region, and about 30,000 live in the remote Musandam Peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz. Some 600,000 expatriates live in Oman, most of whom are guest workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, India and the Philippines.

Of the total population, about 55% are Ibadi Muslims who are related to the early Kharajites. Sunnis account for 35% of the population while Shia Jaffaris are 7%. The remaining 3% of the population are Hindus, Christians and other minorities, most of whom are expatriates.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:Oman.


Education in Oman

Education in Oman is provided free of charge up to the end of secondary education, though attendance is not mandatory at any level. In 1970 there were only three formal schools with 900 students in the whole country. Oman's national educational program expanded rapidly during the 1970s and the 1980s. In 2006–2007 about 560,000 students attended 1053 public schools. The number of students in private schools is about 20,000. There are also extensive programmes to combat adult illiteracy. Sultan Qaboos University, the only national university near Muscat, was founded in 1986 and in 2006 it had 13,500 students. The 2006 Human Development Report found adult literacy rate to be 81.4% in adults (older than 15) up from 54.7% and in 1990. For the same period youth (15-24) literacy rate increased from 85.6 to 97.3%. Public expenditure on education was reported to be 4.6% of GDP and 26.1% of total government spending

For a general description of education in Oman see Education:Oman.

Schools in Oman

Before 1970, only three formal schools existed in the whole country with less than 1000 students receiving education in them. Since Sultan Qaboos came to power in 1970, the government has given high priority to education to develop a domestic work force, which the government considers a vital factor in the country's economic and social progress. Today there are over 1000 state schools and about 650,000 students. In 1986, Oman's first university, Sultan Qaboos University, opened. Other post secondary institutions include a law school, technical college, banking institute, teachers training college, and health sciences institute. Some 200 scholarships are awarded each year for study abroad.

Pre-university education in Oman has three stages: primary, preparatory, and secondary. Six years of primary schooling are followed by preparatory school. Academic results of the preparatory exams determine the type of secondary education the student will receive.

The adult illiteracy rate was estimated at 28.1% for the year 2000 (males, 19.6%; females, 38.3%). In 1998, there were 411 primary schools with 313,516 students and 12,052 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 26 to 1. In secondary schools in 1998, there were 12,436 teachers and 217,246 students. As of 1999, 65% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 59% of those eligible attended secondary school. In the same year, public expenditure on education was estimated at3.9% of GDP. In 1993, there were 252 literacy centers and 176 adult education centers. Three teachers' colleges were functioning as of 1986. The Institute of Agriculture at Nazwa became a full college by 1985. Sultan Qaboos University opened in 1986. In 1998, all higher-level institutions had 1,307 teachers and 16,032 students.

Pre-school Education

Pre school education is provided to children less than 10 years old. It is offered by the private sector and some public organizations. Supervision is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Nursery enrollment is very limited and estimated to be only 1%. Kindergarten is available mostly in large cities and enrollment is estimated to be 15%. Attendance usually extends from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the teacher being free to organize this period as she deems appropriate between school learning and artistic and leisure activities. The Ministry of Education is in the process of finalizing the advanced curriculum for the kindergarten level, based on self-learning as a method and centered on the Omani child and on his/her environment, cultural heritage and civilization. Some preschools have adopted an international curriculum such as the International Preschool Curriculum or the IB Early Years programme.

Basic Education

In 1997, the ministry began development work on a Basic Education programme to gradually replace the three level General Education system. The aim of the reform is to create a unified system covering the first ten years of schooling. Basic Education is organized into two cycles: the first cycle covers grades 1 to 4 and the second cycle covers grades 5 to 10. These two cycle are followed by two years of post-Basic Education system (secondary education). The first schools started to introduce the new system in the academic year 1998/1999.

Secondary Education

Lasts for three years or any time you can graduate.


Further and Higher education in Oman

The Omani higher education system is relatively young as the first public university in Oman, the Sultan Qaboos University was founded in 1986. Prior to the establishment of SQU, the government sent some students to pursue higher education studies in neighboring Arab countries like UAE, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt. Also some students were awarded scholarships to study in the UK and America.

Currently, the Ministry of Higher Education operates the SQU, Rustaq Education College for preparing teachers and five specialist colleges in Ibri, Nizwa, Salalah, Sohar and Sur (until recently all five used to be Education Colleges). The Law College and College of Banking and Financial Studies are also run by the Ministry of Higher Education. The Ministry of Manpower operates the Higher College of Technology in Muscat and five colleges of technology in Al-Mussana, Ibra, Nizwa, Salalah and Shinas. The Ministry of Health runs a number of health institutes to prepare assisting medical staff like nurses, paramedics and pharmacists.

As the number of students finishing secondary school went up each year (44,000 are expected to finish in 2008), SQU and other public colleges became unable to cope with demand as places were limited. Competition for acceptance in public higher teaching was (and still) very fierce. Since private colleges were very limited in the mid nineties, more and more parents sent their kids overseas to study in countries like UAE, Jordan and Egypt. The government became aware of the trend and decided to encourage the private sector to form universities and colleges in the country. The first private college was established in 1994. Since this date Oman has seen quite a lot of new foundations. Most of the colleges focus on business administration and computer sciences. They are usually affiliated with European, Australian or American institutions. The language of instruction is mainly English.

As part of the eOman initiative, applications for 2006/2007 higher education (public and private) places have been merged under one unified online system (Higher Education Admissions Center). Each higher education institute publishes the minimum entry requirement for each of its degrees and the student selects his or her choices in order of preference. When the Ministry of Education publishes secondary school results in mid July, these results are fed automatically into the system and offers are made in early August. Prior to the new system, the students had to submit their papers to the different institutes by themselves after the publication of results. The process was very inconvenient for the students and the admission departments as there was very little time and students had to travel a lot.

SQU and other private universities offer both Bachelor and Master degrees but not in all subjects. Starting from September 2008, SQU will introduce Phd studies in four of its colleges (Agriculture and Marine Sciences, Medicine, Engineering and Natural Sciences). A Bachelor degree takes about five years as the first is spent studying English, the second studying relevant science subject and the last three years are dictated to core degree units. A medicine degree takes seven years. The public university is normally visited by Omani only. Expatriates go - as a general rule - to private universities or study abroad. Dhofar University is famous for welcoming international students.

At the moment, colleges teach mostly in the undergraduate area. A few have started to offer Master degrees. At the colleges, the students receive their first vocational graduation. The first year ends normally with a "Higher National Certificate (HNC)". The second year conclude with the "Higher National Diploma (HND)". the third year will lead to an academic grade of a Bachelor.

In the year 2003, Omani Ministry of Higher Education approved the merger of five private run colleges in order to form the Muscat University. However, the plan to merge Fire Safety Engineering College, Majan College, Modern College of Business & Science, Middle East College of Information Technology and Mazoon College for Management and Applied Sciences failed (source: Oman Observer 18.7.2005). Currently, there is some talk that the plan to form Muscat University may be revived.


Universities in Oman

Sultan Qaboos University, founded in 1985, has colleges of science, medicine, engineering, and agriculture. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 13% of college and university enrollments. Its web site is at http://www.squ.edu.om/


Polytechnics in Oman

The Institute of Health Sciences, under the Ministry of Health, was founded in 1982. Muscat Technical Industrial College, founded in 1984, has departments of computing and mathematics, laboratory science, and electrical, construction, and mechanical engineering. The Oman Natural History Museum, founded in 1983, includes the national herbarium and the national shell collection. All of these organizations are located in Muscat.

Colleges in Oman

Nine private colleges exist, providing 2-year post secondary diplomas.

Education reform in Oman

Schools

Colleges

Universities

The Bologna Process

There are no entries for "bologna process" in the Oman domain (.om).


Other reforms

Since 1999, the government has embarked on reforms in higher education designed to meet the needs of a growing population, only a small percentage of which are currently admitted to higher education institutions. Under the reformed system, four public regional universities will be created, and incentives are provided by the government to promote the upgrading of the existing nine private colleges and the creation of other degree-granting private colleges.


Administration and finance

Schools

Colleges

Universities

Quality assurance, inspection and accreditation

Schools

Colleges

Universities

Oman Accreditation Council

The Oman Accreditation Council (OAC) is charged with assisting in the development of the Omani higher education sector through institutional quality audits and institutional and program accreditation processes. Also, in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, it has responsibilities for establishing academic standards, and providing training and networking opportunities.

This site will be developed over time. Eventually, it will include a range of information and training resources on a wide range of quality assurance and quality enhancement issues and activities for Omani higher education. Many of the links on this site are not yet active. Your patience while this development occurs is greatly appreciated. During 2006, the OAC and the MoHE have undergone a major planning exercise designed to improve upon the ROSQA document. This has resulted in a Draft Quality Plan. The core elements of the proposed new Quality Management System for Oman are also set out in three posters.

The draft plan and posters can be downloaded. Public feedback on these documents has been sought at a national workshop and through emails and discussions. A final version of the plan is currently being prepared for approval by the OAC Board and the MoHE and will published here once it is available.

Information society

Internet in Oman

Information Technology Authority

The Information Technology Authority (ITA) was set up by the Royal Decree 52/2006 promulgated on the 1st June 2006. This autonomous legal body is affiliated to the Minister of National Economy.

ITA is responsible for implementing national IT infrastructure projects and supervising all projects related to implementation of the Digital Oman Strategy while providing professional leadership to various other e-Governance initiatives of the Sultanate.

ITA serves as a competency center on best practices in e-Governance and in harnessing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), thereby offering efficient and timely services, integrating processes and improving efficiency in service delivery.

ITA undertakes several projects to increase technology penetration and empower its people with required digital literacy and higher levels of competence through training and innovation centers.


Digital Oman Strategy

The Sultanate of Oman has embarked upon its ambitious journey in transforming Oman by empowering its people, through the eOman initiative, besides opening up thousands of job opportunities for nationals in the IT sector, within the digital society. The goal includes a significant improvement in the quality of services the government provides to its citizens.

The implementation of the strategy began in May 2003 with the following focus areas:

  • Streamlining Government services to citizens and business
  • Creating and nurturing knowledge-based industries
  • Developing a local ICT sector
  • Supporting a better competitive environment
  • Providing employment for Omani youth
  • Enabling better healthcare
  • Improving educational opportunities
  • Supporting tourism sector
  • Enhancing social development using IT
  • Making Oman a more attractive destination for foreign investment and conducive for business


eOman

The Sultanate of Oman's digital society initiative - eOman - was launched in 2006. "eOman will offer every citizen, business and government entity a wide variety of convenient, cost-effective and customer-oriented electronic services that will empower and transform life for the better," said Mohammed Nasser Al Khusaibi, secretary-general of Ministry of National Economy, on the occasion.

eOman is built on His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s vision to create a Knowledge Society in Oman. Spearheaded by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) which is affiliated to the Minister of National Economy (MoNE), eOman aims to create an effective government-community-citizen infrastructure that provides better public services to people, resulting in a meaningful information flow between the government and citizens.

eOman’s mission is to create a Knowledge Society in Oman and transform the Sultanate into a Knowledge-based Economy. Whether you are a citizen, resident, visitor, business enterprise or government entity in Oman, eOman offers you a wide variety of convenient, cost-effective and customer-oriented electronic services that will empower you and transform your life for the better.

eOman will leverage ICT for economic and social gain to enrich the lives of the people of Oman. Integrating government departments to provide better and more efficient public services, helping people acquire ICT skills required to live in a knowledge society, helping businesses save more time and money through smart electronic services, developing local ICT industries, building a secure foundation for e-Commerce transactions and minimizing the Digital Divide are some initiatives undertaken by eOman.

Some eOman services presently under development are: Government Convergent Network, Government Nervous System, Government e-Services Gateway (UBAR portal), Institutions Data Bank, People Data Bank (National Registration System), e-Payments Infrastructure (EFT, RTGS etc.), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and E-Mail Services.

Educational internets in Oman

Copyright in Oman

ICT in education initiatives in Oman

Virtual initiatives in schools

OER initiatives in schools

Virtual initiatives in post-secondary institutions

Arab Open University

However, the Arab Open University now has a branch in Oman. See http://www.arabou.org/conoman.htm and http://www.aouoman.org.

OER initiatives in post-secondary institutions

Lessons learnt

References


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