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Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Constitution of Kuwait, adopted on November 11, 1962, outlines the system of governance as a constitutional, democratic monarchy. As an emirate (analogous to a state or province), Kuwait has as its head the amir, who according to the constitution must be of the al-Sabah family descended from the late Mubarak al-Sabah. Islam is the state religion, and Shari'a (Islamic law) is the main source of legislation. As an Arab nation, the official language is Arabic, and the country is a part of the greater Arab nation and Islamic umma (Islamic nation/community). By a fortunate turn of events, Kuwait's status as a democracy came to be a valuable asset during the course of the Iraqi occupation. Kuwait garnered American support through a public relations drive and "free Kuwait" education campaign. During the Gulf War some journalists asked why the United States should support a nondemocratic form of monarchical rule. Kuwaiti representatives were able to respond with an explanation of the constitutionally affirmed status of Kuwait as a democracy.

In the constitution of Kuwait, in line with the Islamic principles of societal governance as decreed by the Quran, the state is seen as holding the responsibility for educating and protecting the Kuwaiti youth. Article 10 summarizes the protective duties of the state with regard to morals, physical well-being, and spiritual well being: "The State cares for the young and protects them from exploitation and from moral, physical, and spiritual neglect."

Articles 13 and 14 specifically state the government's commitment to provide education, and to promote the arts and sciences. Article 13 states that "education is a fundamental requisite for the progress of society, assured and promoted by the State." Article 14 continues by saying that "the State shall promote science, letters, and the arts and encourage scientific research therein."

Further on in the constitution, Article 40 outlines the right of every Kuwaiti citizen to obtain an education. Also highlighted are the commitments to eradicating illiteracy. The exact text of Article 40 reads as follows:

  1. Education is a right for Kuwaitis, guaranteed by the State in accordance with law and within the limits of public policy and morals. Education in its preliminary stages is compulsory and free in accordance with the law.
  2. The law lays down the necessary plan to eliminate illiteracy.
  3. The State devotes particular care to the physical, moral, and mental development of the youth.

The Kuwaiti government's role as benefactor to artistic and scientific endeavor, protector of youth, and provider of educational and training services, has transformed the social services sector of Kuwait into one of the most generous welfare systems in the world. For Kuwaiti citizens, education is not just a privilege, but a guaranteed constitutional right.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceKuwait - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education