Disasters … worst yet to come

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I am committed to consistently addressing the topic of education, and I will persistently raise concerns. While I generally avoid subscribing to conspiracy theories, my growing conviction is that a specifi c entity is actively undermining Kuwait’s stature, and this conviction becomes more resolute with each passing day. It appears this entity is targeting education as a means to achieve its objectives.

The intention seems clear: by impeding our education system, they gain greater control over our nation. A populace lacking education or possessing subpar educational quality is more susceptible to manipulation and the adoption of extremist ideologies. Offi cial statistics have recently highlighted alarming issues that signify grave affl ictions within Kuwait’s education system. The annual report published by the Directorate General of Social and Psychological Services at the Ministry of Education for the 2021/2022 academic year has revealed a range of concerning problems.

Among these are the staggering numbers of 28,000 students experiencing academic failure, 7,000 students being persistently absent, 20,000 students grappling with health concerns, 676 students facing psychiatric disorders, and 343 cases of cheating. While the count of cheating cases might appear modest, it’s crucial to note that these instances are limited to elementary schools alone. This factor is deeply unsettling and could potentially make Kuwait’s elementary schools among the highest in the world when compared to the total number of schools.

The normalization of cheating is troubling, extending to households and manifesting as a pervasive issue. According to the report, a concerning 70,000 students have registered fi les with the General Directorate of Social and Psychological Services, representing 18 percent of the total student population. The documented fi gures also encompass 1,340 incidents of verbal and physical assaults on teachers by students, 13,868 instances of similar attacks among students, 19 cases of harassment, 1,357 students who smoke, 8 cases of alcohol and drug usage, 2,567 students leaving classrooms without permission, 521 students absconding from schools, 4 cases of gender identity issues, and 3 cases involving ideological disorders.

These alarming statistics appear even more perilous when factoring in that religious studies are included in the curriculum. This serves as a recurring indication that religion studies are distinct from ethical teachings, as the latter continues to deteriorate within schools alongside the increasing infl uence of religious factions. These groups are allowed a free presence in schools, while advocates of civil and liberal ideologies are targeted. This phenomenon permeates all schools, including private institutions, particularly in Farwaniya, Ahmadi, and Jahra, followed by Hawally, Kuwait City, and Mubarak Al Kabeer.

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect is the near parity in the number of academic failures between boys and girls (11,876 boys and 11,818 girls). The report concludes with a set of recommendations, though my skepticism remains regarding their serious consideration by relevant institutions. I acknowledge that addressing this issue requires the cooperation of students and their parents, which is undoubtedly a challenging endeavor. Furthermore, I am aware that the actual situation might be even graver than the report suggests.

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