“Education is the basis of Kuwait’s economy,” said Chairman and CEO of Al-Jeri Holding Group Talal Khalifa Al-Jeri, noting that sound educational outcome has been the basis of nations’ development throughout history. In an interview, Al-Jeri added that the group gives due care to education in a way that matches the state’s policies, with its six educational companies that include many schools serving various categories and nationalities throughout Kuwait. “This indicates the volume of the huge investments Al-Jeri Group has in this significant sector,” he added. Al-Jeri noted the increasing demand for international schools, because both citizens and expats prefer enrolling their children in private schools providing good quality education. Al-Jeri also reviewed the problems Kuwait’s educational sector is facing, such as the high cost of land, paperwork and the high cost of building educational facilities. Some excerpts:
Q: Tell us about Al-Jeri Holding Group’s structure.
A: Al-Jeri Holding Group includes six companies and many schools serving students of all grades and nationalities in various areas around Kuwait. This indicates the volume of investments dedicated to this important sector, which includes: • English schools • Bilingual schools • Arab exemplary schools, special needs schools. • Indian schools • Pakistani schools • Philippines schools • Training and consultancy centers • Centers for rehabilitating people with special needs older than 21
Q: How did you start with the educational sector?
A: It was a long time ago. Or start reflected state policies, as education is a top priority for Kuwait according to article 40 of the constitution. I personally believe in the significance of education. That is why Al-Jeri Group has been keen on establishing the best educational facilities since the 1969s.
Q: What do you think of the situation of education in Kuwait?
A: Well, it is quite evident that Kuwait has been keen on education. It is also known that the sector is still witnessing considerable reforms that started with a program launched in collaboration with the World Bank (2015-2020), in which all official educational bodies focused on developing education and improving the efficiency of both teachers and school administrations. Modern studies in this field show that government spending on education has been annually growing by 14.4 percent over the past four years, which is 15 percent of government spending. This shows the government’s interest in developing education through building universities according to international standards such as the Sabah Al-Salem University in Shadadiya, which is expected to absorb the growing numbers of school graduates.
Q: Does this mean that Kuwait is on the right path?
A: We can of course say so, especially since the growing spending on education is accompanied by World Bank consultancy with the aim of reframing the educational system in a way to meet the requirements of the labor market, provide sustainable employment and proper training needed for international competence.
Q: Can you tell what is your group’s share of the local educational market?
A: According to our follow up, I can assure you that our market share is not less than 10 percent of the local educational market, as we own many schools following different systems.
Q: What are the most prominent problems Kuwait’s educational sector is facing?
A: To start with, the most important problem is getting land plots in investment areas, which have prohibitive costs. The second problem lies in the high cost of construction materials, particularly for building schools and all the needed facilities such as playgrounds and labs, which require huge capital amounts, in addition to the quest for qualified Arab and foreign teachers.
Q: How would you view the future of this sector?
A: Demand for education is correlated to the growth of the population in Kuwait, where expats form the majority. According to IMF assessments, Kuwait’s population is expected to considerably grow in the period of 2015-2020, and so will the educational sector. Taking into consideration that expats form the majority of the population, this has increased demand for British and American schools, in addition to international systems like Indian, Pakistani and Philippines schools. This suggests that more schools will be needed to meet the expected growing number of students.
Q: Can you explain the current demand for private schools?
A: As a matter of fact, demand is increasing for foreign and international schools because many citizens and expats prefer them. We also notice that English schools are most popular, followed by bilingual schools or those teaching Arabic curriculums. Statistics show that 108 out of the total of 170 private schools are foreign, while only 62 are Arab.
Q: What are the group’s latest moves in terms of developing its subsidiary companies?
A: Our latest move was launching the new trademark for Cambridge English School, which reflects our strategy to develop the company’s various sectors. This step is but a start for the group’s new strategy, expected to be followed by further steps. During the interview, Al-Jeri emphasized the significance of supporting national investment and urged relevant establishments to fight capital migration through providing various companies with needed facilities. He also urged company owners to support the national economy.