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AFTER talking about health in our last article, we will now talk about education in our country.
Your Highness the Prime Minister, we are doing this because we don’t want to see people without brains walking on the streets. We want to have officials who are worthy of the positions they occupy.
We are doing this so that Kuwait does not continue walking in the darkness of forged university degrees, which has become a disaster for the state institutions as a whole. We don’t want to see illiteracy continue instead of our children being armed with knowledge.
Your Highness, we first and foremost hope that the process of forming your government will see the light soon, and will gain the confidence of the National Assembly, as MPs have already begun sharpening their teeth to nibble the benefits that they can gain through profit-making maneuvers in the event that your fourth government passes the test.
Therefore, the best way for you is to work on addressing the major challenges that the country has been enduring for decades as a result of the backwardness of education … yes, its retardation and neglect.
Your Highness the Prime Minister, the government spends about KD 2.65 billion annually on education including higher education. In the past ten years, it spent more than KD 18 billion.
Quoting the words of educators, the result is that “Illiteracy is real, and the educated ones need a rescue operation”.
While the budget of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education increases annually, the quality of education decreases further and further. We resort to the Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha), which published in one of its reports that the cost of education per Kuwaiti student is the highest in the world, and the number of employees in the sector is 120,000, who are supervising about 683,000 students.
Your Highness, did you know that this army of employees compared to the population exceeds China? Did you know Kuwait, which spends 15 percent of its budget on education, is ranked 95th out of 137 countries globally, while China is eighth in the world? Did you know what China spends on education is much less than Kuwait when compared to the population?
This catastrophe has caused so much damage because of the fact that education is the main catalyst for integrity and creativity. Hence, some Gulf countries did not err when they privatized it, and made room for international universities to open branches there.
In the United Arab Emirates, the number of private universities is 33, Qatar 32, and Bahrain 22. The number of private schools in the Emirate of Dubai alone are 83. The quality of education in these countries is much higher than Kuwait, as Qatar is first in the Gulf and fourth globally, followed by the UAE, in this regard.
Encouraging the privatization of education has become a necessity in light of the continuing decline. This is because, in addition to competition in its quality, there will be financial return for the state by limiting useless spending on education that results in illiteracy.
It is true that education is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and this matter is not to be disputed. However, the state is able to secure it for Kuwaitis by paying citizens’ education fees from the revenues generated from renting out buildings and the fees collected from private schools and universities.
Indeed, it is very shameful that education in Kuwait has reached this level. It believes in Islam, and believes that the first words of Almighty Alllah to His Noble Prophet (PBUH) was “Read”.
We also refer you to the statement made by the builder of the Singapore Renaissance Lee Kuan Yew – “Countries begin with education … This is what I began with when I came to power in a very poor country. I was more interested in the economy than in politics, and in education more than in the system of government. I sent youths abroad to learn, and then benefited from their studies to develop Singapore internally”.
Your Highness the Prime Minister, if the ants learned to argue, they would not find food to eat in the winter. Therefore, how can a country rise when it is mired in political wrangling and does not work, despite all the capabilities available to it, on addressing its most important file, which is education, so that it can regain its pioneership, instead of retreating to the lowest levels, when it was “the school of the Gulf” for more than a century.
Think about it, Your Highness.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times