Education system in Kuwait
The education system in Kuwait changed in 2005/06 from a 4-4-4 system to a 5-4-3 system. This means that the new educational levels will be kindergarten or nursery (2 years), primary school (5 years), intermediate school (4 years), and secondary school (3 years). The primary and intermediate stages (aged 6-14) are compulsory for all students, and state education is free. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for the development of education in schools, while the Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for the development of education at the next level (colleges and universities), and they work together under one schooling system in the country. There are (public) state schools and private schools in Kuwait, but most students in Kuwait are in state schools. Some of the private schools follow the Kuwait national curriculum, while other private schools have their own curricula (American, British or French). All state schools in Kuwait are segregated by gender, but some private schools are not.
Schooling usually begins when a child is aged between 4 and 6, in kindergarten. After that, students are required to spend 5 years at primary school, starting from the age of 6. Then at the intermediate level students will do 4 years up to grade 9. Finally, students are required to spend 3 years at secondary school before graduation, and then, depending on the students’ GPA, they will be able to apply for a university or college.
The Kuwait government invests a lot of money to provide the best educational facilities and books to the students. Also, the government has asked the MOE to ensure that every school is equipped with a library. As part of the relationship between the government and the MOE, the government has supported the use of information technology (ICT) in classrooms, by including e-learning books. The focus of the MOE is on how to improve the quality of the education system for the next generations.
How to become a teacher in Kuwait
According to Lawson (1992), the period between being a student and becoming a teacher is transitional, and students might find difficulties at the beginning of this period. This was one of the main reasons behind the establishment of the College of Education in Kuwait University. The college has been working with the MOE to prepare qualified teachers and to provide professional opportunities for all teachers, and it generates a competent work force in the field of education. Also, it organizes national and international conferences for the development of education, and has a consultative and training role. There are three levels in the college: undergraduate studies, postgraduate diploma, and graduate studies. The undergraduate programmes offer four-year courses for preparing kindergarten, primary, intermediate, and secondary school teachers in different areas and subjects. Students choose their major (a subject such as English, Arabic, mathematics, geography, etc.) after they have completed their first year. This helps the college to provide the MOE with the expected number of graduate teachers in each subject and at each stage. In other words, it is like applying for a job; instead of immediately starting the job, students do the remaining three years of their course. This cooperation between the MOE and the College of Education is an advantage as it allows students to start their career immediately: for example, students normally graduate in June and after only three months, in September, they will start working as teachers in the MOE.
In order to graduate from the college, there is a compulsory module for fourth year students, which is to teach for 13 weeks (either in fall or spring course). This is a practical module requirement for graduation, and must be completed by every student according to his or her subject and stage. The college will help the students in this process and send them to particular schools. This requirement from the College of Education is included to ensure that the students are sufficiently qualified to graduate and become teachers. While the students are doing this compulsory module in one of the state schools, they will be supervised and then evaluated (at the end of course) by the head teacher of the department, the inspector (supervisor), and the principal.
Teachers in state schools in Kuwait do not have to produce their own materials. Recently the MOE signed a contract with Pearson Longman to provide schools and teachers with appropriate and specifically designed materials. Under this contract, the publishing company will provide schools with the Target English for Kuwait series.