As Saudi student I can tell you from my experience that educational system there mostly depending on receiving the data from (teacher, professor, textbook) and memorize them. This is not completely bad but what make it not useful is accept it as the only way to accomplish success at school or University. For example, when I was in high school I always had low grades in the subjects that request a lot of memorizing like Geography, History, or Religion.
The discussion part wasn't useful too because the teacher just try to finish the questions with the student as fast as she can without pay attention for those who are shy or don’t understand the questions very will. There are many techniques to make the discussion part effective one of them is, put the shy person with easygoing student to encourage shy student participate in the class but unfortunately most of the teachers unprepared very well to deal with those problems in the classroom or maybe they are just don’t care.
To have an acceptance from University in Saudi Arabia you have to have very high score , to know some one who is important position, or having the same believes sometimes .Not because they are need smart students but to reduce the amount of new students at the Universities. As a consequent, many of Saudi students care about their score not their understanding to the information that they receive. When Saudi students move to another country, they will struggle in the first year at University or in postgraduate studies. I used to hate participate in discussion part at school because of my teacher's sarcasm sometimes so It was hard for me when I start this last level in English language program coz they request to do research paper ,group work, and a report papers. It seems like I am running all the time and never catches any thing .But I really enjoy participating in class I remember when I went with my English partner to University class as a guest to talk about my country especially about women there. It was really so nice, the students take time to express their opinions about article they had read before the class and after my speech they start to ask me Q's. Unlike when I was at university the professor come to the class , read the lecture and ask some questions that’s all .I don’t feel like we are related in the real life they pushing students to use the text books without mentioned what happen outside the classroom if its related to our topic. Of course, they request to do research but this is another problem maybe I will talk about it later. I can't determine the reasons for this missy but there is a mix of factors led to that. Like strict understanding to religion, psychological matters in order to manipulate people, or unfaithful from some workers in educational institutions. To describe this dilemma we need books to do that coz its so complicated but the solution in Arab countries need decades to change and that for sure will happen not when the governments want that but when the people realize their problems and strongly want to change it.