Saudi Arabia is planning to develop public-private partnerships (PPPs) in primary and secondary education in what would amount to revolutionary change in the kingdom’s state education system, Saudi Education Minister Ahmed al-Eissa said at the Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh on 26 January.

He was speaking after delivering a keynote address at the conference about plans to upgrade the kingdom’s education system.

“Upgrading the quality of education will improve the quality of the economy and increase GDP,” Al-Eissa said.

“The ministry is trying to raise efficiency of costing and expenditure by taking on private sector partners [and] supporting private education.”

The plan will include incentivising teachers based on performance and encouraging private investors to invest in education.

“The investment ecosystem should be streamlined,” Al-Eissa said. “The ministry will provide infrastructure and staff. [We shall] stop schools using rented buildings.”

Responding to a question after the speech, Al-Eissa said the education plan could involve PPPs in primary and secondary schools.

“We would like to provide more services to investors and reduce the time and cost of establishing new schools,” he said.

Al-Eissa was appointed education minister in December as part of a continuing shake-up of Saudi government departments in the wake of the succession of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in January 2015 and the creation of the Council of Economic & Development Affairs (CEDA) under the chairmanship of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, the kingdom’s defence minister.

In the Global Competitiveness Forum’s keynote address by Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia) governor and chairman Abdullatif al-Othman, education was identified as one of 18 sectors that will be targeted to boost non-oil economic activities.