For the first time in decades
KUWAIT: The Interior Ministry gave a green light to the Education Ministry to recruit Palestinian teachers months after Kuwait officially recognized the Palestinian passport as a valid document. The move will allow the government to recruit Palestinian teachers for the first time in nearly three decades.
It will also provide relief for hundreds of Palestinians living in Kuwait. The Interior Ministry announced in October 2016 that it would official recognize the Palestinian passport. Prior to this Palestinians living in Kuwait holding passports issued by the Palestinian Authority could not have an iqama (visa) issued directly on their passports. They needed a workaround, typically an Egyptian travel document, to which the work visa would be attached. But in 2016, Egypt announced that it would stop renewing such documents for Palestinian passport holders. The shift in Kuwait government policy, however, will eliminate the need for the workaround.
More importantly, it opens the door for the recruitment of Palestinian labor into Kuwait. “Following the decision by the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister last October to treat Palestinians holding Palestinian passports like all other Arab residents holding Arab passports and to allow them to bring their wives and children into the country, there is no objection to the Ministry of Education recruiting Palestinians in accordance with your wishes and needs and under the laws governing the residency of foreigners in the country,” the Interior Ministry said in a letter quoted by Al-Rai yesterday.
The Education Ministry is looking to expand recruitment of Arab teachers by hiring nearly 400 teachers from Palestine – either directly from Palestinian territories or Palestinians living in Kuwait. Palestinian teachers have a long history in education in Kuwait. They were among the first Arab teachers to teach in Gulf state, and the earliest mission to arrive to the country dates back to the 1930s.
Palestinian teachers constituted a majority among public school teachers in Kuwait until the 1990-91 Iraqi Invasion. The Palestinian Authority’s support for then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait led to souring relations and following liberation, a mass exodus of Palestinian manpower from the country.
After liberation and the rebuilding, Kuwait turned to other Arab countries, mainly Egypt, to fill the huge void left by the absence of Palestinian teachers in public schools. Kuwait and Palestine restored diplomatic relations in 2004, but Kuwait did not recognize the Palestinian Authority’s passport for security reasons until October of last year.