INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENCE EDUCATION

Keyword: Saudi Arabia

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Research Article
Education for Sustainable Development in Saudi Arabia: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Media and Government Policy Documents
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(2), e2266, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11519
ABSTRACT: This qualitative study examines the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s policy of integrating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into the Saudi education system under the country’s Vision 2030 sustainable development strategy. The study specifically asks: how is the policy of integrating ESD in the Saudi education system presented in the discourses of the Saudi government policy documents and the written media? The study examines two types of documents, namely official policy documents published by the governmental entities involved in the planning and/or the execution of the ESD integration policy, and newspaper articles collected from the three top-ranked Saudi newspapers (Arab News, Asharq Al-Awsat, and Al Riyadh). Thematic coding was used to identify themes and sub-themes in the collected documents. In addition, Fairclough’s model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) was employed to offer a deeper understanding of whether Saudi Arabia meaningfully aims at integrating sustainable development into its education planning in Vision 2030. Results suggest that Vision 2030 does not consider ESD as a main tool to achieve sustainability and preserve the environment. The analysis reveals that there are very limited discussion of ESD integration in Vision 2030, both in the media coverage as well as the government official documents. Moreover, the CDA of the collected data shows there is a great generalism in the language used in presenting the road map to implementing ESD, and considerable vagueness on the proposed procedures for integrating ESD into the Saudi education system. Consequently, there is a lack of a comprehensive strategic plan with pre-determined steps. The findings of the study suggest that despite statements to the contrary, the Saudi government is not taking the plan of ESD integration into education seriously.