The standard of education in Kuwait is high, seeing as the government has invested greatly in this sector in recent years. Kuwaiti nationals are entitled to free public education, but expats usually don't take this route, owing to language and cultural differences.
Most expats in Kuwait choose to send their children to private international schools that follow the curriculum of their home country.
Public schools in Kuwait
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Education regulates both public and private schools in Kuwait. Although public schooling is free to all Kuwaiti citizens, many Kuwaitis opt for private schools.
Education in Kuwait is compulsory for all children aged six through 14. Basic education is divided into three levels, namely elementary (five years), intermediate (four years) and secondary (three years).
Arabic is the language of instruction at public schools in Kuwait, although English is taught as a second language. Within the public education system, single-sex schools are the norm.
Private and international schools in Kuwait
There are many private schools in Kuwait, with some following the Kuwaiti school system, with Arabic as the language of instruction, and others offering international curricula.
International schools cater to the expat community in Kuwait. Most are co-educational and follow curricula such as that of the US, UK, Canada or India, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
Children in both private and international schools are required to take Arabic. These schools are also obligated to offer Islamic studies as a subject, but only Muslim students are required to take these classes.
Expat parents should expect to spend a considerable portion of their budget on their private education in Kuwait. On top of high tuition fees, additional costs include uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular activities, bus transport services and an initial non-refundable admissions fee.
Due to the high demand for places at international schools in Kuwait, we encourage parents to start planning and researching schools as early as possible. Waiting lists can be long, as space is limited.
Nurseries in Kuwait
Expat parents with toddlers and young children in Kuwait have several choices for preschools, kindergartens and daycare centres. Some are attached to larger international schools and others are standalone kindergartens guided by various learning values, including the Montessori programme and English National Curriculum.
Special-needs education in Kuwait
Schooling options for children with disabilities and special education needs in Kuwait are quite limited, particularly for families who prefer an integrated education. Though separate from mainstream classrooms, many schools are uniquely dedicated to providing special needs education. These are largely concentrated in Kuwait City.
We recommend expats explore the international schools in Kuwait to see what services they provide. Some may be merely wheelchair accessible without specialised programmes or support teachers. Other schools offer greater support for students with mild special needs, learning disabilities, mobility and visual handicaps, and speech and hearing impairments. Private international schools commonly offer psychological wellness and counselling programmes.
Homeschooling in Kuwait
The law on homeschooling in Kuwait is unclear. While education is compulsory for children aged six to 14, school attendance itself is not explicitly obligatory. According to the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association), many families are advocating for homeschooling to be formally acknowledged.
Homeschooling allows parents and children greater flexibility with learning environments and is much more affordable than private education. Homeschooled children can learn at their own pace and follow their interests.
We recommend that expat parents network with other homeschooling families in Kuwait through social media, online forums and schools themselves to get specifics on the ins and outs of homeschooling in the country.
Tutors in Kuwait
Whether children attend a mainstream school or are homeschooled, tutors can be a valuable resource. Tutors are especially helpful if students are struggling with a particular subject, require extra support or want some extra guidance close to exam times. Parents can find tutors via online platforms, such as TeacherOn, as well as private tutoring centres.
►See Accommodation in Kuwait for all you need to know about finding expat housing
"Avoid any smaller nurseries as they tend to be a daycare set up in someone’s house and run by unqualified people with limited English language... There are also groups and classes for those children that are too young for school." Gemma discusses various private schooling options in Kuwait and provides helpful recommendations in this expat interview.
"There are a variety of high quality English schools, following a range of curricula, including the International Baccalaureate and the standard A Levels. I imagine the difficulties occur more for the teenagers who may find a lack of freedom." For more on children and schools in Kuwait, read our interview with Avril Bailey.
Are you an expat living in Kuwait?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kuwait. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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