KUWAIT: The Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) and the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) are two public institutions that fall under the Kuwait government. Their primary objective is to monitor and provide accurate statistical data to be used as inputs for planning public policies. The basic and very preliminary census is the population census with its detailed classifications. The indisputable hypothesis is that their data must be identical but if they differ they are supposed to communicate, being public institutions, to unify their data before issuing the data or explain the reasons for the data inconsistency.
During the first week of August 2022, the CSB issued a report on its estimates of the population statistics as of the end December 2021. The report states that the total population in Kuwait reached 4,216,900 dropping by 119,112 people from 4,336,012 people in the end of 2020. The decline was the result of a decrease by about 148,000 in expatriates and an increase of about 29,000 in the number of Kuwaitis. Until this moment, PACI has not issued demographics statistics as of the end of 2021. Its population figures in the end of June 2021 reached 4,627,674 people, a difference by 411 thousand people from the CSB figure at the end of 2021, which is an essential difference.
Fundamental differences extend to the age groups figures. While the CSB estimates those who are aged 60 years and above at 361,493 people, PACI estimated them at 122,004 at the end of June 2021. And as for the age group between 25-29 years, the CSB estimates them at 206,048 people while PACI estimates them at 512,087 people, more than double, with a difference of 306 thousand people.
Reading through the tables of the two institutions’ population statistics seems as if we are reading statistics on two different countries. The relationship is almost non-existent in the totals and in its details in the numbers of expats. We don’t know where the truth lies and it is not our job to find facts, what we do know is that we cannot plan any policy with such fundamental differences. If the differences in the very primary statistics are wrong, it is certainly possible that the more complex statistics on which it is built, such as economic growth, inflation rates, employment and unemployment are also wrong.
What is required is the avoidance of these differences and the issuance of accurate and unified information. Either the two institutions meet for coordination to review the differences and their justifications before they are issued, or a single institution is assigned to issue that information. Until this is achieved, all studies and policies adopted by the state will be doubtful in achieving their goals. Accuracy and updated figures are the fuel of development.
We hope that Kuwait will start a new era that will raise the level of its public administration to what it deserves and restore its pioneer role which it has occupied till recently. This role will not be achieved without a commitment to essential priorities and a violent confrontation with corruption and ensuring clean and fair upcoming parliamentary elections whose output is one of the two wings of the administration. We mentioned in a former report that reforming the oil sector is a priority because it replaced most of its best administrators by less qualified ones. This disaster contributed to distributing its positions into quotas among corrupt influential people to buy their loyalties and multiply their numbers.
Reforming education, general and higher, is a first priority. The public education faced a sabotage and its level declined by about 4.6 years, according to the World Bank and the latest programs of the previous governments. This means that the educational level of a high school graduate is below the level of an 8th grade graduate.
In an official report titled “For Kuwait’s Sake Let’s Teach Our Children Integrity”, the average cost of a student in government schools in its four stages – kindergarten to secondary – was estimated at KD 3,800 annually. According to a survey conducted by Al-Shall, the cost of private school education is surpassed only by the average student cost in American schools at KD 3,900. The average cost of students in bilingual schools is about KD 2,900, KD 2,600 in the British schools, and average cost at KD 500 per year in Indian schools and KD 427 in Arabic schools, all of which are with better educational outcomes than government schools.
The above means that the problem is not the scarcity of money but its waste and misdistribution, in addition to numerous shortcomings such as the failure to link the cadres of teachers with the rare specialization and research, the teacher’s promotion in continuing education and non-tolerance with cheating in it in addition to the inflation of the administrative system for employment purposes. All of the foregoing disabled the provision of other educational supplies such as laboratories, tools, and training courses.
While education in the world is witnessing a revolution in its curricula because most of the traditional jobs that were consistent with such curricula are no longer needed in the future, public government education curricula remained unchanged. As the outputs of public education are the inputs of higher education, the lag in its outputs has rendered raising the level of higher education almost impossible. Therefore, the classification of higher education institutions lags behind that of neighboring countries where Kuwaiti public education curricula were taught in some of them in the past.
Kuwait needs a new administration fully aware of sabotage that struck the public education sector and believes that improving the country’s level will be in vain without improving its human capital which in turn will not be achieved without a true educational revolution that includes curricula and values. We are not seeking a new invention, clear examples are available around us but we need awareness and will. – Al-Shall