KuwaitOther News

Assembly suspends fee hike in private schools – Appeals court sets Feb 17 for trial of ‘Abdaly cell’

KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday approved a recommendation stipulating that all fee increases by private schools, including foreign schools, must be suspended immediately until a parliamentary committee reviews the issue with the minister of education. The recommendation was passed following strong criticism by MPs against a number of private foreign schools that unilaterally raised their fees before obtaining a permit from the ministry.

Education Minister Bader Al-Essa said the government accepts the recommendation, which means it will be implemented, and as a result all such increases have to be stopped temporarily. The minister also said that the ministry had formed a committee to study the issue of fees in private schools and the committee agreed that foreign schools can increase their fees by up to five percent. But Essa insisted that this was only a committee recommendation and the ministry has not taken any decision on the issue. He said that due to low salaries, teachers were leaving private schools here for the United Arab Emirates, adding that the services at some Arab private schools are appalling.

The discussion on the issue began after several MPs demanded a debate on private school fees in the country. MP Khalil Abul said that owners of some private schools have no respect for the ministry and its decisions and the minister’s reply is not sufficient. He said that the Assembly must pass a law to regulate the affairs of private schools.

MP Saleh Ashour said people send their children to private schools because of the low standard of public education, adding that some private foreign schools are expected to raise their annual fees to as much as KD 6,500. MP Roudhan Al-Roudhan said it is clear that owners of private schools have a strong influence in the education ministry and called on the educational committee to prepare a new law on private education.

MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji said many private schools pay minimal rent to the government for leasing their buildings or are granted government land, but still they hike their fees. MP Hamdan Al-Azemi said the education ministry is too weak in dealing with private schools because there is no law to govern the issue.

The Assembly also discussed a report on the huge payments being given to teachers at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training for working extra hours. Some MPs praised the teachers and said they deserve the payments they get, but the head of the budgets committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said the payments are highly exaggerated and sometimes more than their salaries.

In another development, the court of appeals yesterday set Feb 17 for the first hearing in the trial of 23 Kuwaitis accused of spying for Iran and Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, plotting attacks against Kuwait and possessing huge quantities of arms and explosives. The case also involves two more Kuwaitis and one Iranian who were tried in absentia by the lower court and their case will not be taken up by the appeals court until they appear.

The criminal court earlier this month sentenced a Kuwaiti and an Iranian to death, one person to life in jail, 15 others for 15 years in jail each, one person to a 10-year sentence and three for five years in jail. The remaining four defendants were acquitted.

By B Izzak

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