Kuwait has a well-developed school system and the level of education is high. General compulsory schooling from the age of 6 to 14 was introduced in 1962. Nearly 95 percent of children attend preschool and elementary school, and 90 percent continue to the voluntary four-year secondary education. A large proportion go on to university studies.
For Kuwaiti citizens all education is free of charge, while for other residents it is subsidized. Arabic is the language of instruction. Lack of Kuwaiti teachers means that teachers are recruited from other Arab countries.
Girls and boys are taught separately. In 1996, in accordance with Sharia (Islamic law), separate teaching for women and men was also reintroduced at universities. A number of rules for clothing and leisure activities in the education system were introduced at the same time.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Kuwait, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
The state university and the state technical college are considered the most modern in the Arab world. Two out of three university students are women, a high figure in the region. This is partly because men are more often given government scholarships to study abroad.
Private schools have become more numerous and almost 40 percent of pupils attended a private school in 2018. One reason is that so much of the population belongs in other countries: there are schools that follow Indian or Filipino curricula. Another reason is prestige: Especially the British and American schools attract students (both Kuwaiti and students of different backgrounds), as they are seen as a ticket to further studies in many countries. Despite the supply, the system is not equipped for interference. When the corona pandemic broke out in 2020, Arab press reported that Kuwait’s private schools wanted to end the school year in advance rather than switch to distance learning via the Internet. In a letter to the Minister of Education, the chair of the private schools’ cooperation organization wrote that neither the students nor the schools were ready for e-alternatives.
- Topmbadirectory: Offers information about politics, geography, and known people in Kuwait.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
87.3 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
95.7 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
13.4 percent (2006)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
13.4 percent (2006)
IS members on trial
In a first trial against supporters of IS, three men are sentenced to prison. A Kuwaiti gets 10 years for trying to recruit supporters for IS. An Egyptian and a Jordanian are given four years each to help him.
Falling oil prices threaten the economy
The emir warns that falling world oil prices are on the verge of damaging the country’s economy. He calls on Parliament to “stop wasting resources” and begin work on broadening the economy and finding new sources of income so that Kuwait becomes less dependent on oil exports.
Several canceled citizenship
Eighteen people are allowed to withdraw their citizenship at the end of the month, some of them because they are considered a threat to the country’s stability. Others are said to have acquired citizenship on false grounds. One of those affected is Saad al-Ajmi, spokesman for the opposition group Popular Action Movement (PAM). In August, about ten people were deprived of their citizenship.
Kuwait supports fight against IS
Kuwait, along with other states in the region, pledge to support the United States’ fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist movement, which has taken control of large parts of Iraq and Syria and has made itself known for extremely brutal methods. Kuwait promises to support the military fight against IS and to stop recruits trying to get to IS via their territory. Kuwait is also committed to stopping money subsidies to IS. However, Kuwait does not participate in the US-led air strikes against IS positions in Syria, which begin at the end of the month.
Tweet gives prison
A Sunni Muslim is sentenced to three years in prison for joking via Twitter about Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, who plays an important role in Shiites’ interpretation of Islam. The sentenced person is considered by his jokes to have offended the country’s Shia Muslims and thereby undermined the national unity.
The government warns critics
The government announces that continued protests will be answered with an “iron fist” and gives the Ministry of the Interior orders to revoke the citizenship of persons considered to undermine the country’s security and stability. The government also warns NGOs, including many Islamic charities, to get involved in politics. A few days later, citizenship is revoked for a former parliamentarian, his brothers and sister, and their families. The same fate robs the owner of two government-critical media, a TV channel and a newspaper, and these media lose their licenses.
Opposition leaders are arrested
Opposition leader Musallam al-Barrak is arrested for insulting the Supreme Court and slandering its chairman. Barrak’s followers respond to the arrest by marching to the detention center to demand him free. They are dispersed by police with tear gas. The unrest continues for several nights and around 50 people are arrested. Barrak is released after six days. In February 2015, however, he was sentenced to two years in prison.
Great opposition protest
The opposition holds a large protest meeting with around 6,000 participants in the capital. Opposition leader Musallam al-Barrak accuses people who previously held a high position in Kuwait for stealing around US $ 50 billion from the general public’s cash during the past seven years and depositing money into bank accounts abroad. Barrak presents papers that purportedly show that the former Prime Minister Nasir should have sent money from the public to persons within the country’s judiciary. The government dismisses the allegations, claiming that the documents produced by the opposition are false. Prime Minister Jabir asks the country’s top prosecutor to investigate the case. This has happened since Jabir’s cousin, Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah, went out and said that he has proof both that a coup was planned and that high-ranking people enriched themselves from the Treasury. Sheikh Ahmad also turns to the Prosecutor’s Office and submits materials that are said to support his claims, including the video film that became famous in April. According to Ahmad, the same people are involved in the scandal of corruption and conspiracy
MPs get prison
The Supreme Court disapproves the release of three MPs in July 2013. The MPs had originally been sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the emir at a public meeting. Now every 20 months imprisonment gets conditional and a fine of approximately SEK 50,000.
Parliament approves the resignation of five MEPs. Three of them left Parliament at the end of April and another two, among them the only woman of Parliament, resigned in early May. Everyone cited the same reason: Parliament voted against holding a hearing by Prime Minister Jabir on allegations of corruption and neglect of the state’s affairs. The MPs claim that the Prime Minister misappropriated investments for the state welfare fund.
Opposition programs are presented
The newly formed regime-critical alliance The Opposition Coalition presents a national reform program calling for the introduction of a parliamentary democracy and multi-party system. The program covers a number of points to limit the power of the royal family that has ruled Kuwait for over 250 years. The Islamists in the alliance first demand that the constitution be amended so that all legislation is based on Islamic law, sharia, but during the process of designing the program they release this requirement.
Disputed video must not be shown
State Prosecutors ban news reporting on a video that is said to show how high-ranking people planned a coup to overthrow the regime. According to local media, a member of the inner circle at the court is involved, and anonymous Twitter messages claim that the video shows the country’s former head of government, Sheikh Nasir, discussing misappropriation of public funds and coups with Parliament’s former president. He states that the film has been “mixed with” and is not reliable. However, the Prosecutor’s Office is launching an investigation into the rumors that have upset many Kuwaitis.
Regime-critical alliance is formed
Most of the country’s regime-critical groupings form a new alliance called the Opposition Coalition. Here, Islamists, liberals, nationalists, trade unions, student organizations, young activists and other sections of civil society come together. The coalition led by former MP, lawyer and trade union leader Musallam al-Barrak (see July 2013) calls for profound political changes.
Prison for insult to the emir
A 30-year-old man is convicted of insulting the emir through comments on the internet. The sentence will be five years imprisonment with subsequent expulsion from the country.
The government is being reformed
Several ministers are forced to stand in parliamentary hearings on corruption and some are also affected by a distrust vote. Prime Minister Jabir replies with reforming the government. 13 of the 16 ministers are either dismissed or changed jobs. The number of Islamists in the government is increasing from two to four.