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Ministry’s plan to allow students attend classes ‘not feasible’ for private schools

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Large shortage of teachers cited

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 26: While tireless efforts are being exerted by the Ministry of Education to resume schools from the upcoming academic year, and teams have been formed to follow up the readiness of schools to receive students, the scene in private schools seems different, as there are fears surrounding the return of students to classes, the most important is related to the large shortage of teachers, reports Al-Rai daily. One of the private schools summed up its reality by saying, “The Ministry of Education’s plans for the safe resumption of schools are tailored to public schools only.

Noura Al-Ghanim

There are about 605 schools in the private education sector, and they have a special status and external educational systems that cannot be deviated from. Whenever we want to define our vision for the new school year, the ministry surprises us with a new plan at a critical time, which ultimately brings about crises for us”. The situation seems severe in some private schools, which have begun to witness quarrels with parents regarding their plan for resumption. This is because classes will not be held on a daily basis, although daily classes will be held as per the decision of the Ministry of Education but with the number of students in each class not exceeding 20

The parents told the daily, “The lack of teachers in these schools is not our problem, as we have been paying the fees and are committed to it. The schools must provide educational services to our children in accordance with the material value they receive”. Commenting on this, the official explained that, “There are many private schools that terminated the services of their teachers during the COVID-19 crisis due to their inability to pay their salaries. They are not to blame for this. Dividing the classes in line with the student densities requires opening additional classes that need additional teachers. This is difficult in the current situation. All private schools have submitted to the Council of Ministers a list of their stranded teachers. Government has promised to open the way for their return, even from countries classified as high-risk, such as India. Their return can be expected very soon, similar to those working in the government schools”.

In this regard, Head of the Union of Foreign Schools Noura Al-Ghanim affirmed that, “The repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis imposed on private and government schools and on the education systems in the world, the need to adhere to health measures and requirements, and the migration of students from public schools to private schools, have created high student densities in private schools. About 98 percent of private schools have 27 students or more in each classroom. They are forced to divide their school day according to their available capabilities”.

She described a teacher now as “a rare currency, especially in scientific disciplines”, stressing that the school owners are not at fault in this situation, as the government decisions and health measures imposed this situation on everyone”. Al-Ghanim asked the parents for their “patience and cooperation.” She said, “All governments spent on education during the COVID- 19 crisis, except for the State of Kuwait, although the financial obligations of private schools are great. School owners are not to be blamed for this, as they are obliged to fulfill their financial obligations such as the salaries of teachers, administrators, and other employees, and rents. In the event of non-fulfillment, the employees leave and go to neighboring countries.

The Ministry of Education’s plan regarding the resumption of schools focuses on the public schools. The private schools, on the other hand, have different educational systems. Due to the high densities, many of them had to divide classes into student groups and prepare schedules for students’ working hours, provided that their number in each class does not exceed 20 students and a distance of two meters is maintained between each student. These are important matters and requirements that the schools must adhere to”.

Al-Ghanim asked everyone “to compromise a little and cooperate in consideration of the exceptional situation in order to get out of the crisis, and reopen schools for our students according to the traditional education system”. She said, “As far as I know, there is a government trend to exclude the return of teachers from the prohibited countries, provided strict health measures and precautionary measures are adhered to prior to their arrival in Kuwait”. Regarding stranded teachers, an official from a private school revealed that the Ministry of Education addressed the Council of Ministers regarding the issue of stranded teachers. The decision was clear, which was to exempt all teachers from the conditions for return. He stressed that the statements issued by parents regarding the shortage of teachers are true, but it is not their problem as long as they are committed to fees”.

The official revealed that, “The discount of 25 percent in the fees, which was applicable to the distance learning system, has been cancelled”. He said all private schools have submitted to the General Department for Private Education their plans to resume classes, adding that a full-fl edged plan will be soon approved.” According to an official from an Indian school, the shortage of teachers in all Indian schools in Kuwait is estimated at 700 teachers, as they are all stuck abroad. In just one school, the shortage is estimated at 100 teachers. He explained that the Indian schools are ready with their facilities. Necessary work has been done, as the cleaners have begun their work, and some restoration work has been carried out such as painting and maintenance. The official revealed that the vaccination rate of students and teachers of Indian schools is about 70 percent, which is a good indication for the resumption of classes. At the same time, he indicated that, “In the event that the 700 teachers do not arrive, the distance education system will have to be implemented in all the schools”.

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