KUWAIT CITY, Jan 27: The National Assembly approved Wednesday the recommendation to stop tuition fee hikes in some private schools and suspend any increase in fees until the Education, Culture and Guidance Committee finalizes the Private Education Draft Law. Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Bader Al-Essa assured the Assembly that there will be no tuition fee increase in private schools until the committee completes the draft law.
He also confirmed the formation of a committee three months ago to follow up the issue, “because some schools raised their fees without informing the ministry.” He said the committee has completed its task and hinted on the possibility of fi ve percent increase in a year. On the new students, the minister asserted they should be given freedom to choose the school and the ministry has not taken a decision in this regard. He admitted that many teachers have relocated to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to higher pay.
Meanwhile, MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji stressed the need to ratify a law that regulates the private education sector and urged the minister to refrain from issuing any decree without discussing it with the concerned parliamentary committees. He pointed out the Police Academy in Kuwait sometimes rejects students from private high schools, because of the allegation that one can just buy a high school certificate. He claimed some universities abroad have rejected students from private schools in Kuwait due to their inability to read and write.
The lawmakers outrightly rejected the proposal to increase fees in private schools whose graduates are not competent enough, especially since the government rents out facilities to the owners of these schools at minimal fees. Some MPs, including Khaleel Abdullah, alleged that private school owners do not care about the regulations of the ministry and the parents of their students due to the weak supervision over private schools.
Furthermore, the Assembly approved the proposal to amend the draft law on the budget of the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) for fiscal 2015/2016 in its first and second readings. In its report, the Budget and Final Accounts Committee called for regulation of professional disciplines and bonuses.
It also suggested determining the maximum number of subjects that should be taken by every faculty member in accordance with universally accepted academic standards. The Assembly also approved a recommendation to open the door of appointment in PAAET in order to cover the financial shortfall in terms of the required number of teaching hours, especially since the budget allocated for the payment of overtime exceeded the amount approved for salaries of the current academic staff.
In this context, Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Bader Al-Essa said he will form a committee to limit, if not, eliminate anomalies related to overtime in PAAET. He added the draft law stipulates there will be no overtime in Kuwait University or PAAET starting from the first semester of the next academic year as part of the austerity measures.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim and Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab Times Staff