School attendance in Kuwait is compulsory for all children between the ages of six and fourteen, but public education is provided free to Kuwaiti children only.
All Schools, whether public or private, are regulated by the Ministry of Education (ME). 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 (see KPG Business Directory under Playgroups). Fees for those with a good size and range of facilities are about KD85 a month per child.
Expatriates often organize their own informal playgroups. These are publicised mainly by word-of-mouth and tend to be transitory. Many schools for foreign children have kindergartens for children aged four to six.
Elementary, Intermediate & Secondary
Admission 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.
Before the Iraqi invasion there were only 15 non-Arabic foreign schools in the country. Demand for a Western education has increased more than threefold since liberation.
All foreign schools in Kuwait must be accredited to the Private Education Department (PED) of the ME. The PED supervises the schools by overseeing staff qualifications 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 favourably with those in the pupils’ home countries.
Costs and the Academic Year
Private Arabic schools receive some government support, such as land to build schools and free text books but very little assistance is provided for non-Arabic schools.
Fees for non-Arabic private schools vary widely (see box above). Transport by bus to and from school is extra. Normally the costs of text books and writing materials are not included in the fees, and additional fees are charged for sports and other extracurricular activities.
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 Sunday through Thursday. The school day usually begins at 7:45am and finishes at 2pm, though these timings vary a bit between schools.
Education beyond school level is regulated by the Ministry of Higher Education (MHE). The country has one university and several technical schools.
As regards degree courses, Kuwait University (KU - tel: 481 1188) practises a restricted entry policy for expatriates. Twenty places are reserved for students whose parents teach at KU. A further 50 places are available to students who obtain scholarships through the MHE.
There are six private universities and colleges in Kuwait, namely - Gulf University for Science and Technology, The Australian University, American University of Kuwait,Maastriht for Higher Education, Gulf American College, and the Arab Open University.
Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST), situated in Hawalli, (Tel: 2645806/1 Fax: 2645795) offers courses leading to bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Computer Science, Business Administration, Accounting and Management Information Systems. GUST is accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education in Kuwait and cooperates with the University of Saint Louis, USA.
The Arab Open University (AOU), is based on the philosophy of open learning systems of tutored independent distance learning. The programs of study offers bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature, Business Administration, Computer Science, Teacher Training and Higher Graduate Diploma in Education. (Tel: 5329013 Fax: 5329019)
The American University offering four-year courses in engineering and business administration, Dutch Maastricht School for Business Administration and Higher Studies offering Master’s degree in Business Administration, Australian College offering a three-year diploma related to naval administration and American Gulf College associated with Indiana University in USA offering a two-year diploma in computer systems and electronic trade, are also established in Kuwait.
Adult & Vocational Schooling
KU’s Centre for Community Service and Continuing Education (CCSCE) offers non-degree courses for students over 16 years in various subjects such as languages (including Arabic as a foreign language), arts, administration, education, engineering, computers, law, secretarial studies, etc, which are open to expatriates. These courses are administered from building 3KH (tel: 483 0804, fax: 483 6323), 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 government’s vocational education policies. PAAET has several full-time colleges as well as field and industrial training centres, 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 private institutions in the country offering a variety of full and part-time courses in business studies, secretarial skills, computing and languages. See KPG Business Directory, under Educational Services, Schools - Specialist Training, and Training Institutes.
New education plan launched by the Ministry of Education, emphasizes on restricting the number of students per classroom to 20 for primary level and 32 at the secondary level.
While the private schools are growing, the Education Ministry has been constructing on an average 40 schools every yearand is planning to rebuild the old schools according to new designs.