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(This entry on Kuwait incorporates the Re.ViCa/VISCED page on Kuwait.)

Original Re.ViCa entry by Paul Bacsich; updated to VISCED level by Nikos Zygouritsas; recent minor corrections and updates in the POERUP era by Paul Bacsich

The report on Open Educational Resources in Kuwait, by Manal Al Marwani, is on a separate page - OER in Kuwait - which updates and expands the report below

>> full PDF version of this report is at File:OER in Kuwait.pdf

For entities in Kuwait see Category:Kuwait

Partners situated in Kuwait


However, note that Paul Bacsich has experience of being an External Examiner for the Arab Open University in 2006 and then an advisor to the Arab Open University in early 2007 during their revalidation by the UK Open University.

Kuwait in a nutshell

Kuwait, or in full the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت‎) is a sovereign Arab emirate on the coast of the Persian Gulf, enclosed by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north and west. The name is a diminutive of an Arabic word meaning "fortress built near water." It has a population of 3,100,000 ion and an area of 17,818 km². Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and Kuwait City serves as its political and economic capital.

Kuwait has the world's fifth largest proven oil reserves and is the ninth richest country in the world per capita. Kuwait's oil fields were discovered and exploited in the 1930s and after it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, the nation's oil industry saw unprecedented growth. Petroleum and petroleum products now account for nearly 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income.

In 1990, Kuwait was invaded and annexed by neighboring Iraq. Kuwait's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt.

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy and has the oldest directly elected parliament in the Persian Gulf region. The head of state is the Emir or Sheikh, a hereditary office. The Emir appoints a Prime Minister, who until recently was also the Crown Prince. A council of ministers, also known as cabinet ministers, aids the Prime Minister in his task as the head of Government of Kuwait which must contain at least one elected member of the Kuwaiti parliament, known as Majlis Al-Umma (National Assembly). The National Assembly has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister or any member of cabinet through a series of constitutional procedures. All cabinet ministers are answerable to the National Assembly.

The National Assembly consists of fifty elected members, who are chosen in elections held every four years. Government ministers are also granted membership in the parliament and can number up to sixteen excluding the fifty elected members.

Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. Kuwait is the only country in the world which has no natural lake or water reservoir. There is little difference in the country's altitude with the highest point in the country being 306 m above sea-level.

Kuwait has nine islands, all of which with the exception of Failaka Island are uninhabited. With an area of 860 km², the Bubiyan is the largest island in Kuwait and is connected to the rest of the country by a 2,380 m long bridge. Sparse vegetation is found along its 499 km long coastline.

Kuwait City, the capital, is located on Kuwait Bay, a natural deep-water harbour.

Kuwait is divided into six governorates (muhafazat, singular muhafadhah):

  1. Al Ahmadi
  2. Al Farwaniyah
  3. Al Asimah
  4. Al Jahra
  5. Hawalli
  6. Mubarak Al-Kabeer

The governorates are subdivided into districts.

The major cities are the capital Kuwait City and Jahrah (a thirty-minute drive northwest of Kuwait City). The main residential and business areas are Salmiya and Hawalli. The main industrial area is Shuwaikh within the Al Asimah Governorate. The main palace is the As-Seef Palace in the old part of Kuwait City where the Emir runs the daily matters of the country whilst the government headquarters are in the Bayan Palace and the Emir lives in Dar Salwa.

Kuwait is a highly industrialized country with a GDP (PPP) of US$139 billion and a per capita income of over US$39,000, making it the fourth richest country in the world. Kuwait's human development index (HDI) stands at 0.871, the second highest in Middle East, after Israel and the highest in the Arab world. With a GDP growth rate of 5.7%, Kuwait has one of the fastest growing economies in the region. According to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, Kuwait has the second-most free economy in the Middle East. In March 2007, Kuwait's foreign exchange reserves stood at US$213 billion. The Kuwait Stock Exchange, which has about 200 firms listed, is the second-largest stock exchange in the Arab world with a total market capitalization of US$235 billion. In 2007, the Kuwaiti government posted a budget surplus of US$43 billion.

As of 2007, Kuwait's population was estimated to be 3 to 3.5 million people which included approximately 2 million non-nationals. Kuwaiti citizens are therefore a minority of those who reside in Kuwait. The government rarely grants citizenship to foreigners to maintain status quo.

About 57% of the Kuwaiti population is Arab, 39% Asian (including people from South Asia), and 4% are classified Bidoon. Bidoons are a group of stateless Arab residents of Kuwait. Other large groups of expatriates include Assyrians, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Filipinos. In 2003, more than 400,000 Indian nationals lived in Kuwait,[50] making them the largest expatriate community there.

After Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation, most of the 400,000 Palestinians living in Kuwait were expelled because of their government's open support for the Iraqi forces. Only a few thousand Palestinians remain in Kuwait. The population of ethnic Armenians in Kuwait also shrank drastically for some reason following the events of the Iraq-Kuwait war.

Some 80% of Kuwait's population practices Islam. Despite Islam being a state religion, Kuwait has large communities of Christians (est. 300,000 to 400,000), Hindus (est. 300,000), Buddhists (est. 100,000), and Sikhs (est. 10,000). Of the Muslims in Kuwait, 70% are Sunni and 30% are Shia Muslims.

Kuwait's official language is Arabic, though English is widely spoken. Other important languages include Persian, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu,Bengali, and Filipino.

Being a highly cosmopolitan society, Kuwait has a diverse and vibrant culture. However, the influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle is prominent. The most distinctive characteristic of local Kuwaiti culture are the diwaniyas, a large reception room used for social gatherings attended mostly by close family members.

While the Islamic dress code is not compulsory, many Kuwaiti men prefer wearing thawb, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton while some women wear abaya, black over-garment covering most parts of the body. This attire is felt to be particularly well-suited for Kuwait's hot and dry climate. Western-style clothing is also fairly popular, especially among Kuwait's youth.

Seafood has been the mainstay of the Kuwaiti diet for centuries.

The Arabs in the Persian Gulf region played a crucial role in the spice trade between India and Europe and spices have remained an important ingredient of Kuwaiti cuisine. Traditional Kuwaiti cuisine includes Machboos or Kabsa which borrows heavily from South Asian cuisine.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:Kuwait.

Education in Kuwait

The State of Kuwait, at the head of the Persian Gulf, supports an educational policy that seeks to provide opportunity to all children, irrespective of their social class, including children with special needs. Kuwait was ranked 31st on the Human Development Index (HDI) report for 2009 by UNESCO, the highest of all Arab countries. The education system in Kuwait has celebrated several achievements; in the year ending 2006, thirteen percent of all public expenditure was given to education, comparable to many OECD countries, although lower than other Arab nations. As a percentage of GDP, at 3.9 percent, it remains well below the OECD average.

In 2005, the literacy rate of Kuwait was just over 93 percent.[3] Kuwait is striving to improve the quality of its education at all levels and for all ages. The Ministry of Education is also making efforts to incorporate women into the educated workforce through various programs; for instance, the 1989 initiative to establish daytime literacy clinics for women. The Kuwaiti government offers scholarships to students who are accepted in universities in the United States, the United Kingdom and other foreign academic institutions.

History of education in Kuwait

Kuwait is a small country situated in the Persian Gulf. It is one of the high-income countries with a GDP per capita of above $24,000. Oil exports account for nearly half of Kuwait’s national income and about 80% of government revenues. Between 1975 and 1985, the proportion of all working nationals employed in the public sector, including oil, rose from 76 percent to 92 percent. The government of Kuwait is now looking for alternative ways to stimulate employment and the generation of income. With this in mind, it is keen to diversify and improve the skills of its labor force; hence the high priority given to the reform of education at all levels.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was no formal educational system in place in Kuwait at all. There were a few Quranic schools, known as Al-Katatib, funded by the wealthy private citizens of Kuwait, that taught reading, writing and basic arithmetric. In 1912, the Al Mubarakiyya School was established as one of Kuwait’s modern educational institutions. It was founded by merchants to train their clerks in commerce, arithmetic and letter-writing skills. In 1921, the Al-Ahmedia school was established, which offered English courses, and soon thereafter, an all-girls school was founded that provided education in Arabic, home economics and Islamic Studies. The government became involved in providing formal education in 1936, and by 1945 there were 17 schools in Kuwait. With the increase in oil production and hence state revenues after World War II, the government began investing huge sums of money into social services, including education. By 1960, there were 45,000 students enrolled in Kuwait's educational system, including 18,000 girls.

In the year 1965, following the constitution that made education a fundamental right of a citizen, education was made compulsory for children aged between 6 and 14. Since the early 21st century, the Ministry of Education has sought to prepare a general, long-term education strategy, focusing on educational teaching for the years up to 2025. This effort aims to align teaching methodologies with the current needs of an increasingly globalised world. The World Bank is conducting an analytical study to explore the various policy options needed to implement this new strategy.

For a general description of education in Kuwait see Education:Kuwait.

Schools in Kuwait

The general education system consists of four levels: kindergarten, or nursery (lasting for 2 years), primary (lasting for 5 years), intermediate (lasting for 4 years) and secondary (lasting for 3 years). Schooling at primary and intermediate level is compulsory for all students aged 6 – 14. All the levels of state education, including higher education, are free. There are two main ministries involved in the development of the education sector: the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher of Education.

There are about 1,145 schools in Kuwait, at all levels from kindergarten to secondary (2006 figures). Out of this total, 664 are public and 481 are private schools. There are 6 districts in Kuwait and the highest number of schools are in the Al-Ahmedi district, which has 152 schools (representing 23 percent of all public schools), while Al-Jahra has 85 schools (representing 12 percent of all public schools), which is the lowest number of schools by district. Two-thirds of all students (from kindergarten to secondary) were in public schools during the year ending 2006. Most Kuwaitis study in public schools. The private schools are split about equally between Arabic medium schools, which follow Kuwait’s national curriculum, and foreign language schools, which follow other curricula (e.g., American, British, French and Indian). There are currently 591,359 students enrolled in Kuwait's schools which makes up approximately 20 percent of the entire population. Between 2003 and 2006 there was a substantial increase in the growth of teachers, compared to the growth in students, especially at the primary level. In the year ending 2006 there was an increase of 21 percent in primary school teachers despite a decrease in student enrollments. A large proportion of public school teachers are Kuwaiti females, particularly at the primary level. Only 4 percent of women teachers are older than 45 years, compared to 35 percent of non-Kuwaiti males.

Nursery and primary education

In Kuwait, schooling usually begins at age six. Pre-school or nursery education is also available to children from four to six years old. Under a new system, primary education will begin at age 5 years. There is the option of attending one of the private schools, which have foreign sponsors and mostly offer co-education, whereas the Kuwaiti public schools are segregated by gender starting at the primarmy levels. Examples of private and prestigious foreign schools in Kuwait are the Bayan Bilingual School, the American School of Kuwait, the New English School (Kuwait), the American International School of Kuwait, the Kuwait English School and the French School. Most of the private schools are subsidized by the state. In 2007, the primary gross enrollment rate was 98.5 percent. The gender parity index, which is the ratio of female enrollment to male enrollment, was 0.98. This shows parity in gender for the enrollment at primary level. The percentage of Kuwaitis studying in private schools in kindergarten is 20 percent. The Kuwaiti government puts about KD 5.6 million per annum into private educational facilities, in addition to allocating land for school construction and paying for the distribution of books. The Kuwait government also ensures that each school is equipped with a library. The government has focused on expanding the collection of books from 230,000 to 3 million today. The government is also promoting the use of information technology at school level. The launch of the 'Education Net' project is a manifestation of that, as it connects every government school and library in Kuwait to a telecommunications data network.

Intermediate and secondary education

Students are required to spend 4 years at the intermediate level, up to grade 9, after which they move on to the secondary level. Secondary education is for 3 years, after which students can adopt the higher education track by entering university or gaining admission into a vocational college to study for technical or vocational qualifications. The secondary education system is now being standardized from the present academic and credit system to a single system. The application of this new organization started during the academic year 2006/07. The percentage of Kuwaiti nationals in private schools at the secondary level is between 8 and 12 percent. Enrollment rates at the secondary level have been rising since the year 2000, except for the period 2005/06, when the system changed from 4-4–4 years at each education level to 5-4–3 years, thus distorting the figures. The gender parity index of the secondary level gross enrollment rate in 2007 was 0.98, reflecting parity in gender at the secondary level. Now the focus of the Ministry of Education will be on improving the quality of the education system. Girls outperform boys in every subject of the 12th grade examinations, particularly in philosophy, English, Arabic languages, chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology. International indicators such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study are not very encouraging. Special attention is being given to reducing repetition and dropout rates.

The Ministry of Education in Kuwait is also trying to foster the use of information technology (ICT) in schools by including e-learning in the curriculum. For fourteen-year-olds in 2006, there were 13 students per computer on average in Kuwait's public schools. This is very similar to the OECD average, back in 2000, for 15 year olds. Despite the availability of computers in schools and at home, there is no guarantee that computers will be used solely for learning, however, and the government may need to rethink the strategy of making technology accessible to a large number of students, whilst developing a curriculum that incorporates e-learning in most of the subjects.

In Kuwait there are also religious institutes which offer a program of general education at the intermediate and secondary levels, along with enhanced Islamic and religious studies. There were 1,026 students in the 7 religious centers in 2005/06, of which 75 percent were Kuwaiti nationals . The Ministry of Education in Kuwait is making efforts to provide equal educational opportunities by opening special needs institutes. In total there are 44 special needs schools out of which 33 are public schools and 11 are private schools. Some of the special needs children are also enrolled in special needs classes offered in general schools.

Further and Higher education in Kuwait

Post-secondary education comprises technical and vocational courses offered by the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET), a state institution, and degree programmes offered by Kuwait University and a small number of private universities.

In the academic year 2005/06, the total enrollment within state-supported institutions reached 27,308, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year. The proportion of females in the undergraduate studies is 70 percent. The gross enrollment ratio in tertiary education in both private and public institutions in 2006 was about 18 percent; the male gross enrollment ratio was 11 percent, a slight increase from the previous year, and for females it was 26 percent, a three percentage points decrease from the previous year.

There is just one state-supported university in Kuwait, Kuwait University.

Universities in Kuwait

Kuwait University is Kuwait's only public university. The medical school in particular, provides up-to-date training for students.[citation needed] However, both the extensive library system at Kuwait University and the collection at the Kuwait National Museum (1957) were heavily damaged and looted during the Iraqi occupation in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuwait_University

Private higher education institutions

There are also a number of private post-secondary institutions in Kuwait that are approved by the Ministry of Higher Education:

  • Gulf University for Science and Technology
  • Arab Open University (AOU)
  • Australian College of Kuwait
  • American University of Kuwait
  • Gulf American College
  • Kuwait-Maastricht Business School
  • Box-Hill College Kuwait
  • American University in the Middle East

The largest private institution for undergraduate studies is the Arab Open University, which had 6,294 students in 2005/06 and which accounts for nearly 60 percent of all private undergraduate students. Kuwaiti students make up 53 percent of all undergraduate enrollments in private institutions.

The Gulf University for Science and Technology was the first private university, established in Kuwait in 2002. It currently has two campuses in Hawalli and a third campus in Mishref where the Australian College of Kuwait is also located. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_University_for_Science_and_Technology

The American University of Kuwait opened in 2004 with Dr. Shafeeq Al-Ghabra as founding president.

Polytechnics in Kuwait

The Australian College of Kuwait opened in 2004.

Box Hill College Kuwait, an Australian women's college, opened its doors in September 2007 in Abu Halifa. It is an accredited extended campus of Box Hill TAFE, Australia, and offers internationally recognized qualifications.

Two other institutions are best regarded as polytechnics - they operate directly under the Ministry:

  • Higher Institute for Theater Arts
  • Higher Institute of Music Arts

The Higher Institute for Theatre Arts began its operations in October 1973 by virtue of the Amiri Decree. The Institute aims to develop arts and theatre with due consideration to Arab heritage. It has three departments: the Acting and Theatre Direction Department, Criticism and Theatre Literature Department, and Theatrical Decoration Department.

The Higher Institute for Music Arts aims at developing the culture of music and abstract musical sciences in Kuwaiti society. It incorporates departments such as Composition, Voice, Musical Instruments, Arab Music, Arabic Singing, Music Education and Fundamental Education.

Colleges in Kuwait

Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET)

The Public Authority for Applied Education and Training was established in 1982 to fill the need for a vocational and technical training institution. PAAET has two missions: PAAET is responsible for providing and developing the skills of the national labor force to meet the demands of a developing nation, and it provides training to students to have careers beyond the oil industry. The College of Basic Education in PAAET, with an enrollment of 7,132, enjoyed an increase of 26 percent from the previous year.

The Government of Kuwait is encouraging its citizens to opt for vocational training programmes to fulfill the demand for a skilled workforce. Students enrolling for vocational training at PAAET can join programmes after primary, intermediate or secondary school, although the majority of students, about 70 percent, are enrolled having completed secondary level education. In 2005/06 there were 12,285 students enrolled in post-secondary training courses, of which 62 percent were female. The total number of students in vocational training at PAAET increased by 8 percent from the previous year, to 17,459 students. The male enrollment decreased by 10 percent whereas the female enrollment increased by 42 percent. This substantial increase was due to the introduction of new vocational programs in line with the demands of the female students . Post-secondary education include courses at a PAAET technical college lasting for two and a half years, following which the students receive a certificate that is less than a tertiary diploma, but does allow the graduates to enter the workforce.

Education reform




The Bologna Process

No information available.

Administration and finance




Quality assurance, inspection and accreditation




This appears to depend on the type of institution.

Arab Open University

The Arab Open University is accredited by the UK Open University.

Private universities

Private universities in Kuwait are approved by the Private universities’ Council. This is a government institution chaired by Minister of Higher Education and membership of 8 of experts and specialized in high education of those who shall have no direct or indirect contribution to any educational institution throughout the period of their membership . Such Members shall be appointed by an order of Council of Ministers upon presentation of Minister of High Education. Their appointment’s period shall be for three years renewable for a similar one.

The Private Universities Council ensurea conformity with all rules and stipulations for licensing private educational institutions. In particular, it undertakea to do the following:

  • Examine applications for founding private educational institutions
  • Determine accreditation requirements for private educational institutions; accredit their educational programs and review their performance to ensure commitment to the provisions of their founding decree.
  • Approve standards and conditions that need to be complied with by academic programs at any private educational institution; and reconsider those standards and conditions whenever the need to do that should arise.
  • Accredit certificates granted by private educational institutions and equate them based on the relevant rules and criteria.
  • Debate whether to suspend or cancel the activities of private educational institutions or even merge them.
  • Look into any other matter referred by the Minister

For more details see http://www.puc.edu.kw/en/index.php

Information society

Internet in Kuwait

Kuwait's Vision towards the Development of an Information Society is described at http://www.kisr.edu.kw/webpages/summit/summit.htm#A.%20%20Kuwaits%20Vision%20towards%20the%20Development%20of%20an%20Information%20Society

Educational internets in Kuwait

Information society strategy

The National ICT Strategy for K-12 education is described at http://www.moe.edu.kw/pages/misc/wathaeg%20feb%202008/wathaeg%20almoashr%20alwa6ani%2017-19feb%202008/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%8A%20%D9%84%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%82%20%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%85%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%86%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D8%A7%20%D9%81%D9%8A%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%202.pdf

Copyright in Kuwait

ICT in education initiatives in Kuwait

The Arab Open University appears to be the main actor.

Lessons learned


  1. OER in Kuwait, drawn from the report File:OER in Kuwait.pdf by Manal Al Marwani

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