Education in Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is located in the Arabian Gulf and has a population of 26,46,314 people. Considering the strategic location of Kuwait in the Arabian Gulf, the Government of Kuwait has placed strong emphasis on education. The 1962 constitution which stipulates that education is assured and promoted by the State reflects the belief that education is a fundamental right of all citizens. Therefore, the education policy seeks to provide opportunity to all children, irrespective of their social status including children with special needs. In recognition of the stride Kuwait made in this field, the UNDP in it 2011 report ranked Kuwait 63rd on the Human Development Index.
That the Government attaches special priority to education can be easily understood from the fact that in 2006, the Government allocated 13 percent of all public expenditure to education.
Kuwait is striving to improve the quality of its education at all levels and for all ages.
The Government of Kuwait is now looking for alternative ways to stimulate employment and income generation. Therefore, it is keen to diversify and improve the skills of its labor force. Consequently, the Government has attached high priority in bringing about relevant reforms in the education sector to meet the need of time.
The development of the Kuwaiti educational system may be attributed, to a great extent, to the wealth that oil resources have brought to the country and this complements the pragmatic policy of the Government to provide International standard education to all endeavoring Kuwaitis.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were very few educational facilities in the country. However, since 1939, with the education sector coming under Government control, 17 schools offering quality education, were set up by 1945. By 1960, some 45,000 students including 18000 girls, enrolled in the Kuwaiti educational system. Schooling was made compulsory in 1965 and in 1967, private school system took a foot hold with Government assistance, in the education system. Kuwait Government provides scholarship to all Kuwaiti Students pursuing academic careers in Universities and institutes in the United States, United Kingdom and some other countries.
Since the early 21st century, the Ministry of Education has sought to prepare a general, long-term education goals upto 2025 in the first phase.
The general education system consists of four levels: Kindergarten or Nursery (2 years), Primary (5 years), Intermediate (4 years) and Secondary (3 years). Primary and intermediate level education is compulsory for all students aged between 6-14. All the levels of State Education including higher education are free. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education are entrusted with the responsibility of developing the education sector.
Students are required to spend 4 years at the intermediate level, upto grade 9 after which they move onto the secondary level which is for 3 years. After completing secondary level of education, a student can go for higher education in a University or may enroll in a vocational college for vocational or technical education. The secondary education system is currently being standardized from the present academic or credit system to a single system.
The importance attached to education by the Government may well be comprehended by the fact that the Government allocates about KD 5.6 million per annum into private educational facilities in addition to allotting land for school construction as well as paying for the distribution of books. The Government is also promoting the use of information technology at school level under its 'Education Net' project that connects every Government school and library in Kuwait to a telecommunication data network.
In addition to the regular educational institutes, there are religious institutes that offer a program of general education at the intermediate and secondary levels along with enhanced Islamic and religious studies. As part of the Government policy of providing equal educational opportunities to all, the Ministry of Education has set up 44 special needs institutes.
Post-secondary education comprises technical and vocational courses offered by the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training while degree programs are offered by Kuwait University and a number of private universities.
Post-secondary education include courses at a PAAET technical college lasting for two and a half years after which students are awarded a diploma certificate.
There are four state supported higher education institutions in Kuwait. These are:
1. Kuwait University
2. The College of Basic Education in PAAET
3. Higher Institute for Theater Arts
4. Higher Institute of Music Arts
Kuwait University a co-educational institution, was established in 1966. It comprises of five campuses. It offers a wide range of academic courses.
The Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, established in 1982 to fill the need for vocational and technical training, has two objectives. One is to provide and develop skills of the national labor force to meet the demands of a developing country and the other is to provide training to students to have career beyond the oil industry.
The largest private institute for undergraduate studies is the Arab Open University which accounts for nearly 60% of all private undergraduate students.
There are a number of post-secondary institutes that are recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education. These are:
1. Gulf University for Science and Technology
2. Arab Open University
3. Australian College of Kuwait
4. American University of Kuwait
5. Gulf American College
6. Kuwait-Mastricht Business School
7. Box Hill College Kuwait
8. American University in the Middle East
The Government's aggressive thrust in the education sector has paid off and Kuwait's literacy rate reached 94% in 2005.
Starting with a small number of Quranic schools known as Al-Katatib at the turn of the 20th century, there are now over 1145 schools both public and private spread over 6 districts in Kuwait, at all levels from Kindergarten to Secondary.