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Pandemic contributed to large ‘education gap’

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Forum highlights dilemmas in Kuwait education sector

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 17: The acting Director of the National Center for Education Development Salah Dabshah expressed his aspiration to achieve the objectives of the education pillar in the “New Kuwait 2035” vision. However, the speakers at the first educational forum for the year 2022, which was titled “National and global trends in the development of education”, highlighted the most prominent dilemmas facing the official education sector in Kuwait, as indicators revealed that more than half of the Kuwaiti children cannot read or understand a simple text, reports Al-Rai daily.

In his statement at the forum, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development Dr. Khaled Mahdi insisted on the need to provide a rescue system for education in Kuwait. He stressed that the banner is being carried by the Minister of Education Dr. Ali Al-Mudhaf, as the educational crisis is a battle to fight the gaps, and it must be filled with the concerted efforts of all parties, adding, “The Ministry of Education cannot bear it alone, otherwise, all will fail”. Dr. Mahdi explained that there is a large education gap to which the COVID- 19 pandemic had contributed. Kuwait suffers from poor education, as indicators show that 51 percent of children are unable to read and understand simple text at the age of 10.

The curricula based on memorization are significantly more prevalent than curricula based on creativity. Kuwait enjoys providing very high educational services, but there are very big challenges to reach the fourth goal of the United Nations’ sustainable development indicators – good education. Nurseries do not provide an added value for the child’s educational development, especially since the first 1,000 days of a person’s life are very important for the formation and the creation of creative human capital. Meanwhile, Professor of Curricular and Teaching Methods Dr. Anwar Hassan said, “Education in Kuwait faces great challenges, including political interference in education affairs, and popular pressure, which impedes the stability of the educational process”.

He stressed the importance of reviewing and developing the current curricula in line with the country’s vision and policy, and global trends, and making early education (kindergarten stage) mandatory. Dr. Hassan also stressed the importance of creating the appropriate atmosphere and possibilities for students to acquire creative skills, adapting learners to a natural return to regular studies and educational pressure, keeping teachers abreast of technological development in education, and applying teachers to blended education in the future.

Furthermore, Sheikha Intisar Al-Ali said, “The greater the pain, the more the situation changes”. She announced the launch of the “Mutamim” project at the end of this year, which is a certified learning practitioner project. She explained that the project has been approved by the General Secretariat, with the cooperation of Kuwait University and the Teacher’s College in Columbia, to prepare teachers professionally and educationally. The project includes periodic exams, certifications, and annual and mandatory evaluation for new teachers. It is considered the first program concerned with professional development of teachers in Kuwait, due to the importance of a teacher’s mental health in the classroom, and the consequent containment of the class and reducing tension.

A student’s desire to study a subject comes from the teacher’s classroom management skills. The emergence of creativity comes in the absence of boredom and tension in the classroom, and an increase in the spirit of fun in the classroom. Sheikha concluded by stressing the importance of introducing fun education into the educational system. In addition, Dr. Khalid Mahdi presented several methods to bridge the gaps in the educational process such as creating an integrated system that adopts “steam” curricula, develops science, math and reading skills, enhances innovative education, and develops educational administration, as well as implementing student and teacher development initiatives, setting standards for outsourcing educators, and raising the quality of the curricula. He highlighted a questionnaire that revealed low levels of satisfaction with the formal education in Kuwait.

Dr. Mahdi revealed that the results of the questionnaire are:
1. Provides people with skills or training to start a business – 35 percent
2. Provides people with training to perform their jobs well – 55 percent
3. Provides training for people to get a job – 64 percent
4. Satisfaction with the quality of Kuwaiti schools – 66 percent.

Also, Dr. Mahdi said seven projects were submitted by the National Center for Education Development, which are:
1. Digital Transformation
2. Homeschooling
3. Teacher’s license
4. School excellence for the application of quality standards
5. The integrated system for education reform
6. Standardized national tests
7. National education standards

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