Program challenges Kingdom’s gifted students


WEBWIRE – Wednesday, July 06, 2011

DHAHRAN, ---

One hundred, sixty talented male and female high-school students from across the Kingdom will spend their summer at Saudi Aramco learning more about responsibility.

The Saudi Aramco Summer Gifted Program (SGP) is an intensive annual program under the patronage of the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba).

Jamal K. Al-Dabal, senior consultant of the design team, said 120 male and 40 female participants arrived in company training facilities and will stay until July 27.

Although it’s not unusual for young women to take part, this year’s program includes some enhancements this year, said the program’s Seena S. Omran, vice president of the female section. New tracks in engineering and math have been introduced. The girls will go to the community, on field trips, and the community will come to them, as speakers with special expertise.

“There are four scientific tracks in both programs, for both genders,” said SGP chairman Rubaian F. Al- Shahrani, in a July 3 presentation to participants and executives: advanced math, iSpark (science and technology), engineering and Future City Design.

A separate enrichment segment, Al-Dabal said, “covers public speaking, building self-confidence, the art of scientific discovery, Mawhibaty (my talent) and marketing.”

“A number of professionals from Saudi Aramco and thought leaders from beyond Saudi Aramco will also contribute to student learning,” Al-Dabal said. “The students will also get involved in society based and targeted projects.”

Two program tracks this year focus on engineering and have been designed by young engineers, most of them Professional Development Program participants. The first track tells students about the various areas of engineering and includes visits to Saudi Aramco sites and other companies.

The second is about urban planning. It takes a section of al-Khobar and the Dhahran-Khobar highway and allows students to redesign them based on their expectations about growth and infrastructure needs. Students can imagine and plan the future in ways that might go beyond their expectations.

“Summer gives us a chance to positively influence student learning and skills as part of our contribution to Saudi society,” said Huda Al-Ghoson, acting executive director of Employee Relations and Training. “Although the boys’ and girls’ programs just started late last week, I have witnessed firsthand the impact on student learning, engagement and overall self-confidence. We work the students to their limit to ensure the best comes out in terms of educational and personal results.”

In a tour of the program, Al-Ghoson had a clear objective. Since the program cannot encompass all students and communities in Saudi Arabia, she said, the gifted students have a role to spread the message. When they finish the program, they need to take what they have learned and go out of their way to positively influence their colleagues and families throughout the Kingdom with the learning, skills and attitudes they have benefited from during this “life-transforming program.”

Al-Shahrani said, “The objectives of SGP are to strengthen students’ foundations in science, math, engineering and technology — increasing students’ ability to take charge of their self-development.”

To date, 45 percent of SGP students have been selected to attend King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; 15 percent have joined the College Preparatory Program (CPP); and several have qualified for the Intel Science, Engineering and Math Competition and the Ibtikar Exhibition, a biennial innovation exhibition that takes place in Jiddah.

SGP is a 12-year partnership between Saudi Aramco and Mawhiba, targeting Saudi gifted students in the 10th and 11th grades who have outstanding scores on the Special Qiyas (rating) Exam.



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