The Saudi Ministry of Education announced at the beginning of this school year that women will be teaching boys up to the third grade of elementary schools.

This comes as part of the Early Childhood Schools Project which aims to improve early childhood education and facilitate the transition from elementary to middle school. According to Al Arabiya News, women are now teaching 13.5 percent of young boys across 1,460 government schools.

The initiative was launched after the ministry conducted studies to assess how best to approach early childhood education, and the studies found that female influence is beneficial for young children.

Photo courtesy of Huda Bashatah for Arab News.

Among the benefits of this initiative is increasing opportunities of employment for women, and creating more equal opportunity in general between men and women in the kingdom.

This comes as what seems to be the first of a series of steps towards including Saudi women in the labour force. When the royal decree was announced loosening travel restrictions, it also included labor law reforms that banned discrimination against women during employment procedures, although no direct strategies or actions had been taken.

This, however, marks one step forward for Saudi female teachers, who had previously had an entire demographic of young children – and thus, entire schools – beyond their reach.