Education and Schools in Kuwait
The standard of education in Kuwait is high, and the government has invested in this sector in recent years. Kuwaiti nationals are entitled to free education at public schools. However, public schools in Kuwait are not usually an option for Western and non-Arabic expats due to the language and cultural differences.
The majority of expats in Kuwait choose to send their children to private international schools, which usually follow the curriculum of their home country.
The Kuwaiti education system
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Education regulates both public and private schools in Kuwait. Although public schooling is free to all Kuwaiti citizens, most Kuwaitis opt for private schools, which offer better facilities and are also well-subsidised by the government.
Schooling in Kuwait is compulsory (kindergarten is available but not mandatory) for all children ages six through 14. Basic education is divided into three levels, consisting of four years each:
Arabic is the language of instruction at public schools in Kuwait, although children are also required to learn English as a second language. Within the public education system, girls and boys are segregated and attend different schools.
The academic year in Kuwait usually runs from September to June. The school week is from Sunday to Thursday, with the weekend falling on Friday and Saturday. Although times vary between schools, the school day is usually from around 7.30am to 3pm, with additional hours in the afternoon for extra-curricular activities.
International schools in Kuwait
There are a number of international schools catering to the expatriate community in Kuwait. The majority of these schools are co-educational and follow the American, British, Pakistani and Indian curricula. A number of international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
Although international schools in Kuwait are allowed to follow the curriculum of their home country, they are required to incorporate Kuwaiti cultural and language studies into their teaching plans. Children attending these schools are therefore required to take Islamic studies and learn Arabic.
Expats should expect to spend a considerable portion of their budget on their children’s education in Kuwait. Fees at international schools are high and, on top of basic tuition costs, parents will need to pay for other basics such as school uniforms, textbooks and extra-curricular activities. Schools also usually offer bus transportation services, which are available for an additional fee. International schools will also charge a non-refundable admissions fee.
Entry requirements differ between schools, and parents are advised to contact their school of choice directly for specific details. Generally, the following is required:
Completed application form
Copy of previous school reports
Copies of birth certificate, passport, visa stamp and Civil ID
Medical card and proof of vaccinations
An admissions test may also be required, usually testing for proficiency in English and Mathematics.
Due to the high demand for places at international schools in Kuwait, parents are advised to plan as early as possible. Waiting lists are common as space is limited.