Sylvan Learning, a leader in providing supplemental and enrichment education to children of all ages and grade levels, has announced its plans to develop in Saudi Arabia. With more than 750 locations across North America, the franchise system has nine international locations in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Guam, in addition to five Middle Eastern locations in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, with additional international development on the horizon. Sylvan Learning has now partnered with Haitham Ahmed to spearhead the development of the brand in Saudi Arabia.
Ahmed has dedicated his life to education. He is currently the assistant professor and chairman in the Mining Engineering Department at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As a civil engineer, he was motivated to get his masters and PhD in North America. While studying at The University of British Columbia in 2014, the Vancouver school teacher union went on strike. Ahmed enrolled his 7-year-old son in Sylvan as a temporary replacement for school to avoid being affected by the closures. Ahmed was immediately intrigued by Sylvan’s personalized learning approach, in addition to its forward thinking view and use of technology. Ahmed noticed that children were motivated to go to Sylvan and it was something they looked forward to. When the strike ended, Ahmed kept his son in the Sylvan program for an entire year before moving back to Saudi Arabia.
“When we got back to Saudi Arabia and my son had interviews for school, they thought that he was a bright kid. I think that Sylvan had helped him to improve his skills in math and English, which came across in his confidence, as well,” Ahmed said. “Since I’m in education and I believe in education, I think that Sylvan’s programs help children at a younger age improve with their schoolwork, which has a lasting effect especially as they get older.”
Stemming from his great personal experience with the brand, Ahmed expressed interest in developing centers in Saudi Arabia. Not only did the brand’s unparalleled expertise through its core programs of math, reading, study skills, homework help and test prep appeal to him; but with an engineering background, Ahmed was also intrigued by Sylvan’s superior STEM product line of robotics, coding, engineering, Math EDGE and Algebra EDGE.
“With my background as an engineer, I really like STEM. I wanted to get students of all ages involved with science and engineering, to give students in Saudi Arabia the opportunity for an accelerated education,” Ahmed said. “I had the luxury to go to The States and Canada for 10 years to study, but not everyone has this chance, so why not bring the franchise here?”
Ahmed is working alongside his wife, Ghadeer Alwai, to open the first Saudi Arabia Sylvan Learning in the Makkah province in the 1st quarter of 2018. Alwai is an interior designer by trade, and she is helping to create a center design that will appeal to Saudis. Together, their goal is to open around ten to twelve centers in the next ten years as they expand their territories across Saudi Arabia.
Sylvan has found success internationally due to the nature of the personalized program, interaction with the Sylvan teachers, and mastery approach to learning – building confidence, critical thinking skills and a passion for learning.
“Sylvan has been on a growth trajectory, and this international expansion is another step in our continued focus on finding the right franchise partners to help bring our programs to children in communities across the world,” said John McAuliffe, Sylvan Learning CEO. “In 2018, we are hoping to see Sylvan open in new countries while also opening in new cities across the U.S.”
With thriving centers in Asia, the Western Pacific, and the Middle East, Sylvan is eyeing China, India, the Caribbean and Latin America for continued international development.