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Panel mulls proposal to reduce expats in public schools

KUWAIT: The parliament’s education committee approved a proposal to review the number of expatriate students in public schools. Expats are generally not allowed to enroll their children in state-run schools, but exceptions are given to those working in certain professions such as public school teachers and medical staff in public hospitals. There are nearly 30,000 Arab students in public schools according to official statistics, and their education is costing the government around KD 9,000 for each student, argue the lawmakers who submitted the proposal. The MPs are requesting that the government reconsiders its current policy of providing education for non-Kuwaiti students at public schools, and instead refocus the funds that can be saved from reducing the number of Arab students on improving the quality of education given to Kuwaiti students. Kuwait ranked 94th out of 137 countries in the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the World Economic Forum early this year.

Meanwhile, Minister Dr Hamid Al-Azmi and former minister Bader Al-Essa had repeatedly addressed the issue of students’ overcapacity at public schools, which forces staff at some schools to increase the number of students in each classroom, especially in Farwaniya and Hawally. And while they noted that the number of expat students is on the increase, they said that the number of bedoon (stateless) students is currently limited, as they include the children of military personnel only, according to sources. The MPs propose only keeping non-Kuwaiti students who are Gulf nationals and children of Kuwaiti woman, along with bedoons who are children of military personnel.

In other news, the Ministry of Higher Education announced that it started accepting scholarship applications for Kuwaiti holders of English secondary school certificates. This will continue until August 27, and the applications can be made online. Scholarships for 2018/2019 include 134 majors in eight countries only: The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta and France. The ministry distributed the majors between countries as follows: The US with 40 majors, Ireland with 29, Australia with 26, the UK with 19, New Zealand with 9, Canada with 8, France with 2 and Mata with 1. Conditions for citizens who wish to receive a scholarship include that applicant’s age must not be less than 17 years and no more than 23, and gets a score of five in ILETS or 45 TOEFL during one year of the date of acceptance.

By A Saleh

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