History of Education in Kuwait Before the Research Paper

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History Of Education in Kuwait

Kuwait before the discovery of Oil

Kuwait Pearl diving

Situated in the North-East of Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia was a small Arab state, Kuwait. Citizens of this state led an underprivileged life, but not an unfortunate one. The state was an example that money is not a prerequisite to live a happy life. Although people were poor, they were satisfied with the little amount of money they earned from pearl diving, camels or from working abroad. The deserts of Kuwait were not rich enough to be exploited, leaving sea as the major source of revenue for Kuwaitis (Kuwait National Commission for Education, 1996).

Pearl diving

This activity was encouraged to the extent that it became the recognition symbol for the citizens of Kuwait. This symbol was plausible with the fact that pearl diving was the most important source of revenue for Kuwaitis and thus proved to be valuable for the economy (General Secretariat, 2010).

Kuwait Trading and fishing

As mentioned earlier, sea was the major source of revenue for citizens of Kuwait. Along with pearl diving and boat building, citizens were also involved in other activities such as fishing and trading. Around fifty years ago fishing was the principal activity of the region, as it was able to meet half of the sea food necessities of the region even when the population size doubled (General Secretariat, 2010).

Kuwait Education

The current situation of Kuwait is opposite to the one mentioned above. Having a GDP per capita of above $24,000, it is ranked amid the highest income countries of world. Principal source of revenue has also changed from pearl diving to Oil exports which comprise more than 50% of Kuwait's national income and around 80% of government revenue. [5] 1975-1985 was the time period that witnessed the growth in oil sector of Kuwait. As Oil exploration was at its peak, the ratio of employees in public sector increased to 92% in 1985 as compared to 76% in 1975. [6] The increase in public sector represents that oil industry has reached to the point of saturation; therefore, in order to ensure that employment levels do not hit a snag with the saturation of oil industry country needs to look for other sources of employment. This is not possible without having a diverse and skilled workforce, thus emphasizing on the importance of education. Hence, it is safe to say that the state of education in Kuwait before the discovery of oil was minimal and limited (Kuwait National Commission for Education, 1996; General Secretariat, 2010).

The initial education status was in the 20th century which marked the start of promoting education in Kuwait. Affluent citizens of Kuwait supported the construction of schools. The main focus was to teach Quran and a little attention was given to basic fundamentals of mathematics. These schools were known as Al-Katatib. The year 1912 marked the start of modernization in Kuwait. Traders felt the need to promote commerce and therefore diverted their efforts towards teaching their subordinates commerce, arithmetic and letter writing schools. For this purpose, Al-Mubarakiyya was the first modern school in Kuwait. Later, the concept to learn English emerged in 1921 and led to the founding of Al-Ahmedia school. This was followed by the establishment of an all-girls school that offered subjects of Arabic, home economics and Islamic studies. The year 1936 was the second milestone in the history of Kuwait. This was when the government recognized the need to be serious regarding the issue of education and therefore opened 17 schools by 1945. The funds utilized in the establishment of schools were generated from the growth of oil industry and state revenue after World War II. The vast investment in Education increased the literacy rates in Kuwait as 45,000 students were registered with the educational system in 1960s. Of these, ratio of girls in these schools was 40%, i.e. 18,000 (Kuwait National Commission for Education, 1996; General Secretariat, 2010).

Kuwait after the discovery of Oil

Oil exploration initiated with the unearthing of oil in Burgan in 1938. Sheikh Ahmad (1921-1950) was amid the few traders who initiated trade agreements with Burgan. It was his wisdom and shrewdness that led to the agreement being signed on favorable terms as compared to similar states in the region. Oil concession made its first move in 1936. Later, as the industry experienced growth, a small town named (Ahmedia) was established for the people employed in oil industry (Ministry of Education, 2001).

Growth of oil industry opened rooms for investment and generation of income in Kuwait. In 1950s and 1960s, government used the excess funds to change the scorched deserts into a modern and civilized state. These funds were utilized in roads, ports, factories, power generating stations and desalination plants. However, the progress did not end here. Modernization continued and led to the construction of mosques, schools, supermarkets, houses and villas. The deserted state that existed back in 1912 transformed into a civilized and heavenly state (Ministry of Education, 2001).

Investment in infrastructure required foreign technicians, advisors and workers which increased the population of the region at the expense of giving the state a modern and civilized look. The revolution brought benefits for the entire state, including the people in minority. The ones who were neglected throughout their lives now became well-known importers, contractors and government officials. None of this was possible, however, without government support, which got imposed with additional responsibility associated with the increase of wealth and development (Ministry of Education, 2001).

A constitution system was introduced in Kuwait in 1962. Under this system, Emir was the Head of State and took the place of President. He had the authority to appoint the prime minister and had the power to even disband the parliament or defer few parts of Constitution if he considered it the right thing to do (Ministry of Education, 2001).

Political organizations come as a package deal along with the system of Constitution. There was no enforcement of law pertaining to political organizations, therefore they continued to remain illegal and work from behind the curtains. As a result, MPs served as independent members or showed affiliation to some group based on sect, class, clan or philosophy. Only Parliamentary candidates above the age of 30, and citizens above the age of 21 having a clean record qualified for the voting criteria (Ministry of Education, 2001).

Early Educational Foundations

Government had to shake-up of their educational policies in the 21st century. As compared to the limited number of Quranic schools in 20th century, 21st century witnessed the most modern, technologically advanced and sophisticated schools in Kuwait. While modernization of education and schools was in progress, the pearl diving industry was a dead duck. As a result, education industry was handed over to government and this marked the start of public education. Surprisingly, the progress did not come to a halt, the modernization proceeded but in a different way. Palestine teachers took the initiative by forming an educational mission. Students were sent to other countries to receive quality education with the intention of coming back and teaching their own fellow citizens. With the passage of time, four primary schools found their way into the state. Three schools were for boys and around 600 students were enrolled in them, whereas the fourth primary school was for girls with 140 students. Secondary education initiated in 1936 when a national education department was established to administer the education system, which included of government schools and all teachers who came from abroad. The educational revolution did not end in failure. Progress was remarkable as 17 schools were established in Kuwait by 1945 (Ministry of Education, 2004).

From 1945-1950, the rate of progress slowed down and the rough path only allowed occasional developments to emerge. After 1950, the road became smooth and the educational institutes grew in leaps and bounds. Along with the of kindergarten schools, Kuwait also experienced the inauguration of its first technical college in the academic year 1954-1955. The college started with the registration of 80 students and later as more programs were introduced, number of students also increased. Later in 1956, government invested its funds in the establishment of Institute for the Blind which was a huge achievement. The school enrolled 36 students in its first year. This was the start of recognition of special people's needs. By 1973, there were in total 11 institutes (enrolled with 1,644 students) for special need students. Educational programs for adults initiated in 1963 for women and 1958 for men. Educational revolution was at its peak in 1960, when 45,000 students in total were registered with the education system of Kuwait, of which 40% were girls. The education department accepted its new position as Ministry of Education in 1962, and since then it has been responsible to administer the matters of education and to ensure the rate of progress does not slow down (Ministry of Education, 2004).

State Education

The flashback for the progress of education in Kuwait…

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