The State of Kuwait, one of the high-income countries with a GDP per capita of above $24,000 in the current times, condones an educational policy of providing opportunity to all children, including those with special needs. However, the country in the early 20th century had very basic educational institutions– a few Quranic schools funded by wealthy merchants that provided for religious discourse and basic Arabic reading, writing and basic mathematics.
The first step toward modern schools came in 1912, with the establishment of the Al Mubarakiyya School that laid the basic foundation in commerce, mathematics and letter writing skills. It was later that history, geography, and art courses were introduced to the curriculum. The first school in Kuwait to offer English, the Al Ahmadia School, began in 1921. The first girls’ school was established in the 1920s. It was in 1965 that 7 years of primary school was made compulsory for all. The first university in the country– the Kuwait University, was opened the following year, and it would require another 36 years for the new universities to open, this time private.
Kuwait funds its educational system, which is at present of good quality. In spite of that, the authorities determine programs for improving the quality of education and the capacity. They also have programs to improve the entry of women into their professional domain.
Institute for Statistics reported that 93.9% of adults and 98.6% of youth are literate in Kuwait. About 40% of Kuwait’s kindergartens and secondary schools are private and finances for these comes from foreign sponsors and substantial government subsidies.
The general level of education among the population is high, applicable to both sexes. Education is free for all citizens of Kuwait till the intermediate level.
In Kuwait, schooling generally starts at the age of six. Pre-school, though not compulsory, is available for free to children with Kuwaiti citizenship aged four to six years.
Migrants, as well as the Bidoon (the stateless population living within Kuwait’s borders), has a wide range of private kindergartens, as well as primary schools with kindergarten facilities to choose from.
Primary and intermediate education is by law compulsory in Kuwait. Only children with Kuwaiti citizenship and inhabitants from before 1960 are eligible for attending school for free (including the Bidoon). There are more than 100 private foreign schools in Kuwait. About 40% of those are non-Arabic and includes a curriculum similar to that used in the children’s native country. Additionally, these schools need to teach local culture and Arabic. Under a new system, primary education will begin at age 5 years.
Intermediate education is a continuation of the primary school for another 4 years.
Generally, duration of secondary education is 4 years. Upon completion of secondary education, students pass a national examination, where interestingly girls do far better than boys.
The Ministry of Higher education looks after all aspects of university education and Applied Scientific Research for the development of higher education, both as university and Applied and overseeing the plans and programs of preparation and manpower development and encourage and coordination of scientific research between the various bodies and education institutions in the country, the Kuwait University being the only university in the country for a long time is co-educational. To fill the need for a vocational and technical training institution there is the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), which offers 2-year courses. Most of the cost is financed by the government and the students have to pay only a small fee.
For many years only few non-citizens have been allowed into Kuwait University. However, with private universities emerging foreigners and Bidoon have the opportunity to take higher education in the country. Other private higher institutions include the Gulf American College; the Australian College of Kuwait; the Maastricht School for MBA; and the Box-Hill College for Girls. The largest private institution of higher education in the country is the Arab Open University, which offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
The Kuwait government takes the level of illiteracy in the country as a serious matter for which it has centers for schooling of adults. Along with these centers that are attended by about 2% of the total population there are also daytime literary classes for women.
For students with special needs there is a progressive system of school in which about 3 of 4 schools are public. However, for students with lesser impairments, the preferred strategy is inclusion into the general school system.