There are currently close to 500,000 students enrolled in Kuwaiti schools, constituting approximately 30%.
16 July 2013| Last updated on 4 July 2017
Today, Kuwait's education system is larger than ever. There are currently close to 500,000 students enrolled in Kuwaiti schools, constituting approximately 30 percent of the entire population.
There are three levels of education in Kuwait – elementary, intermediate, and secondary. Each level involves around four years of study. Schooling usually begins at age six. Pre-school is available for four to six year olds, and students who complete their basic education can continue on to higher education. Students in all Kuwaiti schools study English beginning in the second grade.
Many people choose not to send their children to the government schools, but to private schools instead. There are many private schools in Kuwait, many of which have foreign sponsors and are coed. The Bayan Bilingual School, the American School of Kuwait, the American International School, the British School of Kuwait, and the French School are several of the many prestigious private schools available to the Kuwaiti population.
Private education is generously subsidised. The Kuwaiti government subsidises into private educational facilities in addition to allotting land for school construction and distributing textbooks.
School attendance in Kuwait is compulsory for all children between the ages of six and fourteen, and public education is provided free to Kuwait children only. The Ministry of education (ME) regulates all schools whether public or private. The Kuwaiti educational system, after kindergarten, consists of elementary, intermediate and secondary levels, each of four years duration.
Nursery & Kindergarten
The ME provides free kindergartens for Kuwaiti children between the ages of four and six.
For expatriate children between two and four years there are a large number of private nursery schools. The better (and more expensive ) ones are registered with the private education department of the ME. Fees for those with a good size and range of facilities are about 75 KD a month per child. Expatriates often organize their own informal playgroups. Many schools for foreign children have kindergartens for children aged four to six.
Elementary, Intermediate & Secondary
Attendance at state schools is restricted to Kuwaiti children, the children of teachers working for the ME and the children of expatriates who obtained residence prior to 1960. All other expatriate children must be educated privately. With more than 120,000 students, over 75,000 pupils were attending Arabic foreign schools and over 40,000 were enrolled in non-Arabic schools were Arab children of whom nearly half were Kuwaitis.
Before the war there were only 15 non-Arabic foreign schools in the country. Demand for a Western education has increased more than three-fold since liberation. According to educationalists, there is a marked preference among Kuwaitis for a Western education for several reasons. They include the perceived inadequacy of state education, the importance of an English language education as a preparation for further education overseas and life in general, and the advanced curricula of the non-Arabic foreign schools in Kuwait. Despite comparatively high fees, schools that teach American and British curricula are booming.
All foreign schools in Kuwait must be accredited to the private Education Department (PED) of the ME. The PED supervises the schools by over-seeing staff qualification and school facilities, and ensures compliance by regular inspections. The ME also regulates school fees. Private schools for non-Arabic children follow their home country curricula, such as American, British, French, German, Indian, Pakistani, etc, though all schools are also obliged to incorporate local cultural and language studies into their curricula. Standards achieved compare favorably with those in the pupils’ home countries.
The academic year runs from late August or early September to mid-June. Expatriate schools usually have three days off in October, breaks twice a year of a fortnight each, and official holidays. The school week is Saturday through Wednesday. The school day usually begins at 7:45 am and finished at 2 p.m., though these timings vary a bit between schools.
The Ministry of Higher Education (MHE) regulates education beyond schools level. The country has one university and several technical schools. As regards degree courses, Kuwait University practices restricted entry policy for expatriates. Twenty places are reserved for students whose parents work at KU. A further 50 places are available to students who obtain scholarships through the MHE. The governments have announced plans to allow the private sector to establish new universities, which would be open to all.
Adult & Vocational Schooling
KU’s Center Community Service and Continuing Education (CCSCE) offers non-degree courses for students over 16 years in various subjects such as language (Including Arabic as foreign Language) arts, administration, education, engineering, computers, law, secretarial studies, etc, which are open to expatriates. These courses are administered from building 3KH, Khaldiyah campus. Fees are fairly nominal.
State-funded adult education and vocational training is provided by the public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), which is also the central authority charged with carrying out the governments vocational education policies, PAAET has several full-time colleges as well as field and industrial training centers, where students may learn technical and professional subjects including teaching, commercial studies, nursing, and mechanical and electrical trades, Some courses are open to expatriates.There are several privet institutions in the country offering a variety of full and part-time courses in business studies, secretarial skills, computing and languages.