Improper textbooks; Saudi Arabia closes its private school in Vienna

Improper textbooks; Saudi Arabia closes its private school in Vienna

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VIENNA: The controversial Saudi School in Vienna-Landstraße will be closed at the end of the school year. This was announced by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Vienna on Tuesday in a press release. The Vienna City School Board (today: Education Directorate) closed the school in August 2015, but the ban was lifted by the highest court.

The Saudi embassy argues the closure on “seeing students as having a better opportunity to integrate into society by attending one of the premier local alternatives”. The school will be continued until June 30th. The closure of the school was announced early in the Vienna Education Directorate, as confirmed on request. At the Saudi Embassy nobody was available for a statement on the issue.

Criticism of improper textbooks

The Vienna City School Board had banned in August 2015, to run further the Saudi School, because in the textbooks, there was material which violates the basic values of the Austrian school system. Media had reported about conspiracy theories and Jew-baiting in a history book. However, the Administrative Court has overturned the Board’s decision in 2016 because improper textbooks are not enough to close a school.

Teaching mostly in Arabic

The non-denominational “Saudi School Vienna” was founded by the state of Saudi Arabia and opened in 1999. Most of the lessons are in Arabic, with the main focus being on the Saudi curriculum. However, the school must also comply with by-laws agreed with the Ministry of Education, as is also the case with Montessori schools.

Because the school has the unlimited publicity, the students receive valid certificates and can complete their compulsory education without having to sit an external exam every

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