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The Relationship between SES and Giftedness in Saudi Arabia

Adel A. Batterjee


Published: 2013/06/01


The origins of educational programs for gifted students can be traced to Plato’s writings (427–347 B. C. E.) and the works of the Muslim scholar Al Ghazali (1058–1111). Both philosophers believed in the importance of the intellectual elite in society. This article explores the nature of gifted education in Saudi Arabia in the context of this long tradition of educational programs and philosophies for the elite. Specifically, this study examines the relationships among a diverse set of socioeconomic status (SES) factors and the IQ scores of a group of gifted Saudi students. Data are drawn from a sample of 120 male Saudi students enrolled in the Mawhiba gifted program and compared against data from a larger sample of general population students reported in Batterjee (2011). While previous studies have shown the influence of SES variables on students’ cognitive abilities and educational outcomes, results from this study show that the effect of SES on Saudi elites is less than expected. For the Mawhiba students, only the age of the student had a significant effect on cognitive ability. Ultimately, the findings from this analysis show that gifted Saudi students are not currently receiving the educational care they need. Moreover, this study shows that gifted Saudi students would benefit from nine-year educational programs in specialized math and science academies. The introduction of these schools and programs would improve the state of gifted education in Saudi Arabia, which has been a national objective for the last three years.

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