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Preprimary & Primary Education

According to the Kuwait Information Office Education Statistics, in the 1997-1998 school year there were 144 male and female preschool-kindergarten schools, which provided a total of 1,387 classrooms. The total number of students (both male and female) attending pre-school-kindergarten was 42,226. The total number of pre-school-kindergarten teachers was 2,871. Of this number 2,720 were Kuwaiti and 151 were non-Kuwaiti. There were 1,608 male elementary school classrooms and 1,593 female elementary school classrooms. Of this student population 39,621 were Kuwaiti and 2,605 were non-Kuwaiti. In elementary schools, the total number of male students was 47,388; most of these were Kuwaiti, numbering 39,970. The number of non-Kuwaiti male students was 7,418. There was a total of 3,396 elementary school teachers for male students. Of these 3,016 were Kuwaiti and 380 were non-Kuwaiti. The total number of female student in elementary schools was 47,064. As with the male student population most of these were Kuwaiti, numbering 39,872. The number of female non-Kuwaiti students was 7,192. There was a total of 4,165 elementary school teachers for female students. Of these, 3,801 were Kuwaiti and 364 were non-Kuwaiti.

Significantly, teachers at the lower levels of education in government schools are mainly Kuwaiti, but at the higher levels of education this trend is reversed among male Kuwaiti educators and evened out with regard to the ratio of foreign female teachers to female Kuwaiti educators. It seems that Kuwaiti women have more of a predilection for the teaching profession than Kuwaiti men at higher levels of education.

For women in Kuwait, teaching has been, and continues to be, a more acceptable line of work than other professions, because schools offer a gender-segregated environment conducive to the Arab Gulf tradition of cloistering females away at home behind veils of socio-religious propriety. In the early days of the 1970s oil revenue increase, educated women were more a sign of modernization and wealth than an indicator of economic need. But the shift in emphasis now is on moving qualified, educated professionals—including women—into the expatriate dominated workforce. Teaching is still seen in many ways as the most suitable profession for women in the Arab Gulf states.

Outside of government schools, governmentsubsidized private schools in Kuwait fill an important role in providing educational services, educating about one-third of the school-age children of Kuwait. The private schools provide an alternative to the state-controlled educational sector for those parents who desire a particular educational track for their children, for example, an American, British, Indian, Pakistani, or Filipino/school curriculum. Many expatriates living in Kuwait with their families have the option of placing a child in a school that follows a curriculum much the same as schools in their own countries. So when expatriates return home, their children will be able to easily make the transition to their own national schools. For Kuwaiti parents, enrolling their children in an English medium school not only carries prestige, but it is a way of ensuring early exposure to and fluency in the language that has become the common language of international communication.

Additional topics

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