Education standard in Kuwait low despite KD2.4bn budget

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KUWAIT CITY, July 11: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim on Sunday received in his office a delegation from the World Bank headed by Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Fareed Balhaj. Dean of the Board of Executive Directors at World Bank Merza Hassan and representative of World Bank in Kuwait Ghassan Al-Khuja also attended the meeting. Meanwhile, Chairman of the parliamentary Education, Culture and Guidance Affairs Committee MP Hamad Al-Matar disclosed that the committee on Sunday met with Minister of Education Dr Ali Fahd Al-Mudaf, senior officials at the ministry and representatives of the Union of Private Schools.

He said the budget for education is KD2.4 billion and KD2 billion of which goes to salaries; yet the quality of education is very low and it is even lower than that of poor countries which pay less than 10 percent of the aforementioned amount for education. He considers this a crisis in the educational sector, indicating this issue will be discussed after the Eid Al-Adha holidays. He added the committee thinks the dire consequences of students continuing to stay at home without formal classes outweigh the danger of being infected with COVID-19. He pointed out that the role of the school is not limited to education as it is also essential for students to engage in sports activities, learn about nutrition and have a social life. He cited statistics regarding private and public schools; indicating the number of students in public schools reached 256,000 compared to 240,000 in private schools while the number of teachers in public schools reached 90,000 and the number of workers reached 14,246 compared to 130,000 and 3,484 respectively in private schools. He then stressed the importance of focusing on the safe reopening of schools to guarantee high quality of education, which was not possible in the previous year due to the coronavirus crisis.

He suggested strategies for the new academic year as follows:
■ Return to normal for schools if the Health, Education and Youth Affairs Committee in the Cabinet issues a decision marking the end of the coronavirus crisis.
■ Hybrid education — 50 percent classroom lessons and 50 percent online lessons. This will be done by dividing students into two categories — one goes to school on Sundays and Tuesdays while the other on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays by rotation every week.
■ Improve the online system applied in academic year 2020/2021. The minister informed the committee that the system will be supplied with fiberglass network in order to improve the service and enable videoconferencing during online classes. This is in addition to installing cameras to develop the quality of online education, as well as to regulate the contents and lesson planning.

According to the minister, teachers in kindergartens and elementary schools will resume work on Sept 19 and Sept 26 for preparatory and secondary schools while classes will resume on Oct 3. The committee also tackled the requests of the Union of Private Schools; such as transferring the commercial visa of employees to work visa as this will solve 50 percent of the problems of private schools. Al-Matar said the Ministry of Interior has approved this request but the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) rejected it. He urged Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Essa Al-Salman to discuss the issue with PAM since he is in charge of the authority. He added that after the Eid Al-Adha holidays, the committee will discuss the safe reopening of schools with representatives of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and PAM. By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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