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Expat teachers divided on plans to travel or stay back in Kuwait

‘Kuwait’s preventive measures are reassuring’

KUWAIT CITY, April 19: Considering the exacerbation of the coronavirus crisis, the expatriate teachers are divided about what to do under the current situation, with some wishing to remain in Kuwait and others eager to return to their home country.

After receiving a long leave extending for several months, the expatriate teachers have varied opinions about what they should do in this situation. Some of them prefer to stay in the country for fear of contracting the virus while on the move, and others are eager to return to their countries and demand their government to find a mechanism that will facilitate their travel matters.

There are many whose children are studying in the 12th grade and their educational fate seems unknown. The daily sought the opinions of a number of expatriate teachers, and they unanimously agreed that the health and preventive measures Kuwait is taking to deal with the current crisis are reassuring.

Most of them expressed their desire to go back to their countries but are worried whether they can return to Kuwait, as they have connections in this country where they spent many years. Despite the internal struggle of these teachers between staying and traveling, Muhammad Al-Adil, the Head of English Department in a public school, said, “I fell between the hammer of the desire to travel and the anvil of fear of contracting the virus, but I decided not to return to my country now and chose to stay back for several reasons.”

He indicated that there are fears among many teachers that prevent them from leaving, including the lack of clarity in the educational vision so far, as a formal integrated study plan or even alternatives were not announced, especially for the secondary stage in the event of continued outbreak until August.

Al-Adil revealed that his son is studying in the 12th grade and is unsure when his exams will actually start, expressing his fear of traveling and not being able to return, which means risking his future. He highlighted that the main factor preventing him from traveling currently is the closure of airspace between Kuwait and Egypt, coupled with the financial factor in terms of paying for the tickets of the entire family and spending many months in Egypt while paying the rent of the apartment in Kuwait, adding that Ministry of Education’s refusal to disburse summer pay for teachers given the current conditions in the country is another factor.

Better to be patient
In corroboration, Physical Education teacher Hala Azzam said, “I am not in support of teachers traveling currently. Even though I live alone in the hostel for female teachers and I certainly miss my family, the current situation forces us to wait before making such a decision”.

On the other hand, Arabic language teacher Nahla Zaki saw the necessity of returning to her country, saying, “Despite all the fears surrounding travel now such as quarantine and anxiety from going to airports and other gatherings as well as the ambiguity surrounding how to return to Kuwait after the long vacation ends, I hope to open my eyes tomorrow morning to see the sky of my country”.

She highlighted the psychological factor behind her desire to travel, saying, “My presence among my family during these difficult circumstances may alleviate my suffering and theirs. Home quarantine in the homeland and with the family is much easier than being in quarantine away from them”. Zaki stressed that, “Kuwait is exerting great efforts to care for all the infected victims who are quarantined without discrimination.” Also, Mathematics teacher Nagla Ibrahim expressed her hope that, “The closed environment will be opened quickly so that I can return to my husband and children”.

Compelling reasons to stay
Several teachers affirmed the existence of reasons that compel them to stay in the country, including uncertain vision of the school year, study of 12th grade children, fear of not returning to Kuwait, and closing of the airspace. Other reasons include financial difficulties to travel, inability to cash the “summer check”, the nearing expiry of residency, have to stay in quarantine back home, possibility of infection while traveling, and fear of mixing with people upon arrival.

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