The government of Saudi Arabia wanted to merge its K–12 and higher education ministries to strengthen the employability of graduates, develop qualified teachers, and improve systemwide efficiency. The combined organization would be the largest employer in the country, with more than 800,000 employees.
The proposed merger was meant to address several major challenges faced by Saudi Arabia’s education system. Many high school graduates were ill-prepared for college or a career: 90% of students needed a foundation year before enrolling at a university, and youth unemployment was high. There were highly variable passing rates on national exams among schools, and teacher development needed significant improvement. The education systems in Saudi Arabia were also misaligned; the general, vocational, and higher-education systems each pursued divergent strategies.
The Saudi government contracted BCG to help design and implement an ambitious restructuring of the country’s education system. The project was carried out in three phases.
In the diagnostic phase, BCG analyzed the situation at the two ministries, identified best practices through benchmarks, highlighted quick wins, and created an integration plan. In the design phase, BCG crafted the organizational blueprint of the new ministry, developed a detailed operating model, and updated relevant processes. In the implementation phase, BCG created a structured roadmap to support the new organization in carrying out the recommended changes—with clear milestones, timetables, and responsibilities. BCG also designed and established a merger management office, supplying tools to track progress as well as creating a thorough description of roles and responsibilities.
BCG identified six key areas for improvement in the Saudi education system and made detailed recommendations for each:
The impact of the transformation program has been significant. Key improvements include: