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NURTURING MINDS

The Future Institute of Higher Education and Training in Jeddah offers educational and vocational training courses for high school and university graduates. Founded in 1991, it is widely acknowledged today as one of the kingdom’s leading institutes of education.

Saeed Al Amoudi met with the institute’s founder, chairwoman and managing director, RAJAA MOUMENA, to find out more.

Can you tell us something about your academic and career background?
I majored in Microbiology at Manchester University in England. After graduating, I returned to Saudi Arabia where much of my early career was spent at the King Abdel Aziz University Hospital here in Jeddah. I started work in 1986 as a lab technician in the Microbiology department. In 1989 I worked as a senior clinical instructor and researcher and in 1995 I was appointed as the deputy director of the Microbiology lab. You founded the Future Institute in

1991. What was your motivation?
The Future Institute of Higher Education and Training actually began life as the Future Center for Ladies. As the name suggests, our mission is simple: to empower women. Since we opened our doors, we have been at the forefront of changing perceptions about Saudi women and the kind of work they can do.
We have continued to carefully study the job market and have developed educational and vocational training programs in accordance with our findings. I would go so far as to say that we became the go-to institute to enact many changes in the kingdom with respect to women’s role in the workforce.

What programs do you offer?
Our core programs currently comprise Fashion design, Jewelry design, Interior design, Photography, Graphic design, English language, Management and Marketing.

Can you speak briefly about some of these?

Certainly. Our two-year diploma in fashion design is very popular.
The courses are taught by highly specialized trainers and vary from the design of simple garments to finely embroidered “haute couture”. Students are taught basic design skills such as drawing, rendering, pattern making, CAD and so forth.

The program has been accredited by Heriot Watt University and our graduates have the option to complete a third year of study at the Heriot-Watt campus in Dubai in order to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Another popular program is Jewelry design. This is a one-year program. We have our own fully equipped
workshop which is a one-of-a-kind for women in Saudi Arabia.
The students are guided through every stage of the design and manufacturing process in order to translate their ideas into workable, wearable designs which are evaluated according to standard criteria based on creativity, originality and execution.
They also have the opportunity to visit a leading jewelry manufacturer to learn more about the techniques and equipment involved in jewelry manufacturing. In June 2015, the program became Pearson Assured which means that we apply international standards of quality assurance. Our three-year diploma in Architectural Interior Design equips students to work with software programs such as CAD, Autodesk 3D Max, Sketch up and Autodesk AutoCAD and to explore the entire creative process of interior design from the choice of materials and furnishings through to technology and even retailing We’re an official associate of the Inchbald School of Design in in London which offer diplomas and postgraduate degrees.

As with the diploma in fashion design, our interior design students have the opportunity to go on earn a bachelor’s degree at the Heriot-Watt University in Dubai.
I’d also like to say a word about our Management and Marketing Diploma which is Internationally approved from Bournemouth and Poole College in England which has over twenty years of experience teaching thousands of students from around the world.
The program consists of courses in basic business skills, human resources, finance, computer skills, communication and interpersonal skills.

How would you describe the institute’s underlying approach to education and training?
Our approach is to enhance thenlearning process by teaching our students hands-on skills.

To this end, we organize visits to leading companies to help the students gain a deeper understanding of the things they’ve been taught in class. We also organize seminars and workshops given by leading practitioners in design and other disciplines. I believe you have also begun to franchise the business Yes. We are offering the opportunity for existing training organizations who wish to run one or more of our courses under a franchise arrangement.

Our franchise system grants franchisees the right to use the intellectual property associated with specific programs in addition to access to our international
student accreditation systems through our management portal.
We offer franchisees full training and support. In 2012, you were chosen as one of the ten leading Saudi women during Women Appreciation Month, an annual initiative led by “femi9”, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading fashion brands, to recognize women’s role in society and their contributions.

What’s your own benchmark for success?
In terms of my contribution and others involved in running the institute, we’ve always tried to provide our students with the highest quality education and training. Being recognized by our peers has certainly been one measure of our success.
Today, our courses are deemed equivalent in quality to those offered at universities and many of our students are now able to fasttrack to a full university degree after successfully completing our courses.
At the same time, we’ve always recognized that every student who comes through our doors is unique and that extends to their ambitions and chosen career paths. Our students often take our courses with a view to eventually start their own business. Some of them succeed and this is always very gratifying for me. Others may fail at first but then succeed later and their perseverance is just as admirable

How do you see the future of education and training in Saudi Arabia?
As we undergo major economic and cultural changes there will hopefully be a deeper understanding of the importance of education for men and women of all ages.
Education and training brings independence, not just for the individual but, as we develop the country through Saudization, the state.
The vision for our country’s growth cannot occur without the development of a trained and skilled workforce.
We cannot achieve the standards of research and development needed for the growth of our country without first making education our first priority. Nurturing the minds of the next generation is more vital than ever.