The FINANCIAL — Kuwait has picked the “ideal strategic partner” in the World Bank to carry out an ambitious transformation of its education system, Kuwaiti Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Bader Al-Essa said.
Minister Al-Essa’s remarks were made at a meeting with several World Bank experts in Washington, DC, which discussed education reform in Kuwait and exchanged views on relevant global experiences.
Today’s meeting is part of the framework partnership between the Government of Kuwait and the World Bank to promote bold, systematic reform of the general education system – launched in 2010.
“Kuwait recognizes the need for greater emphasis on quality of education and institutional capacity, as well as the need for system-wide reforms,” he said.
The Minister highlighted that “Kuwait needs to deeply analyze its current situation in terms of Early Childhood Development and inclusive education”.
The new education program goals for 2015-2019 are to transform Kuwait’s entire education system to one based on competence, he said, and for curriculum-focused reform to be implemented across all 12 grades of general education, according to the World Bank.
The ministry in partnership with World Bank experts worked very closely on designing a homegrown reform program, “the most important investment Kuwait can make for its future”, added the Minister.
Furthermore, Kuwait’s Ministry of Education piloted a “transformational school based reform program for school leadership and autonomy in 49 schools in 2010-2014.”
The Educational Reform Program in Kuwait encompasses the introduction of a competence-based curriculum across general education; developing a conducive environment for effective teaching; enabling schools to be active centers of learning; and strengthening systems for enhanced accountability and evidence-based decision-making.
One of the great successes of the program to date has been the development and roll-out of a competence-based curriculum in grades 1, 2 and 6.
This process, led by local experts with technical assistance from the World Bank, has resulted in a nationalized curriculum that provides a balance of national values and traditions combined with international best-practice in curriculum design.
According to the Minister, some “58% of schools in Kuwait are general schools and 42% are private schools, with a primary net enrollment rate of 82.5%”.
On the other hand, the World Bank’s Practice Manager for Eastern Europe and Asia, Cristian Aedo stated that “4.5% of Kuwait’s GDP is spent on education.”
Kuwait also has the highest paid teachers in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, and probably in the world, added Dr. Ayesha Vawda, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank Group.
“But outcomes are low, so there is lots of room to improve efficiency of the system,” according to Mr. Aedo.
Harry Patrinos, Practice Manager for East Asia and the Pacific stressed that “parents should be empowered to contribute to kids’ school quality, and private schools should be accountable to the public system”, in addition to investing in teachers and assessing students, “if you don’t know where you are, you can’t improve”.