- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
The 1967 Ministerial Decree No. 46601 (Art. 2) regarding private education and its amendments stipulates that non-state actors conduct educational activities or train individuals for vocational purposes or any other area concerning general education regardless of whether it is provided by national or foreign entities. The 1965 Compulsory Education Act does not refer specifically to private education or non-state education.
In Kuwait, the majority of schools (653) in 2019/20 were owned, operated, and funded by the national government through the Ministry of Education. While 65% of all primary schools were public, only 57% of intermediate and 52% of secondary schools were public. Nine state religious institutes existed, divided between five at the intermediate level and four at the secondary level. In addition, seven night religious education centres also exist, whereby the instructors are public school teachers. Compulsory education starts at the primary level, which includes grades 1-5 (ages 5-10), followed by intermediate education, which includes grades 6-10 (ages 11-14), and finally secondary education (ages 15-17). The 2003 Ministerial Decree No. 76 extended the years of compulsory education to nine years, thereby including both primary and intermediate levels. However, all years of primary, intermediate, and secondary education are free.
Non-state managed, state schools
No information was found.
Non-state funded, state schools
The 2014 Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law No. 116 encourages foreign investment in the public sector by providing tax exemptions and/or benefits. Public-private partnerships are regulated by the PPP Higher Committee and Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects (KAPP) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance. These authorities are responsible for selecting and approving PPP projects and outlining the details of the agreements (financing, quality assurance, management, etc.). Between 26% and 44% of the shares would be allocated to the private investor, 6-24% to the public entity, and 50% to Kuwaiti citizens. These partnerships can be implemented across various sectors, including education. A list of requirements and application forms for private investors is available on the KAPP website, however, it is not clear what kind of schools benefit from such partnerships (public or private schools), how many of them are in this situation and whether this affects tuition fees. One of the most prominent PPP is the chain Kuwait Educational Fund (between KIPCO Asset Management Company and the state National Offset Company) which aims to improve education through the provision of training and technical equipment in the public and private sector. No information was found on the specific schools benefiting from this fund.
Independent, non-state schools
The most notable providers of non-state education are Educational Holding Group which manages the Afaq chain of schools, Al Jeri Holding Group, which manages 20 independently branded schools, and United Education Company, which holds the Al Rayan chain of K-12 schools. As of the academic year 2019/20, there were a total of 581 non-state schools, consisting of 179 Arabic schools and 402 foreign schools. There was also a total of five religious institutes for females and six religious institutes for males. In addition, 17 special needs schools could be found spanning different education levels, which are also considered foreign non-state schools. Furthermore, 30 international schools exist, whereby eight are American and the others are Canadian, British, French, or Indian, with the programmes taught in English. The curricula most often offered are based on Western curricula followed by Arabic or bilingual education, which combines Islamic values with a Western education. Expatriates (about 70% of the total population) are mostly enrolled in non-state schools. The official statistics on education published by the Ministry of Education do not mention any community schools.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
The government does not fully fund private education, although it is subsidised. The government provides funds to private schools, in addition to allocating land for school construction and distributing textbooks. However, no statistics were found on the number of non-state institutions subsidised by the state.
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
The legal framework does not specifically address homeschooling. Although education is compulsory, it is interpreted by some families to mean that education, not attendance, is compulsory. In their 2015/2016 statistics, the Ministry of Education reported that 449 high school graduates were homeschooled. However, since 2016/17, the number of homeschooled graduates has not been reported.
The government recently invested US$1.14 billion in e-learning and online platforms to further improve the educational system and address the lack of preparedness faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. No information was found on the regulation of non-state providers of online/distance learning.
Market contracted (Voucher schools)
No information was found.
No information was found.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour regulates non-state nurseries and kindergartens and the Ministry of Education regulates all levels of non-state education from primary through secondary. The Ministry of Higher Education, established by the 1988 Decree No. 164, oversees all matters related to non-state higher education and sets the general framework for the policies and plans that are necessary for the development of higher education. Vocational education institutions are regulated by the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET). The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs is a cabinet department of the executive branch of the government dedicated to Islamic culture. Its decision-making role in education is not stipulated. Kuwait has a centralized education system that is divided into national/state government and the local government or municipalities.
Vision: The 1965 Ministerial Ordinance No 50203 (Art. 4) stipulates that non-state schools must abide by the laws and standards set by the Ministry of Education and that it’s the Ministry’s responsibility to technically and administratively supervise non-state schools to ensure that they abide by these rules. The 1966 Law No. 29 governs the provision of non-state higher education and Decree No. 164 issued by the Emir (1988) outlines the function of the Ministry of Higher Education in its role of supervising all higher education institutions. As part of Vision 2035, the 2016 National Development Plan 2035 aims to reform and revitalise the country’s education system. As part of this objective, a two-pronged strategy has been adopted which includes meeting the increasing demand for high-quality education through privatisation.
Although it is not mandatory, kindergarten is offered to Kuwaiti children aged four to six. The gross enrolment rate at the preschool level is 66.4% and many Kuwaiti parents have increasingly chosen to enrol their children in non-state pre-primary schools. The 2000 Children’s Nurseries Act No. 111 is the most recent act cited that specifically focuses on regulating early childhood education. Under the 2010 Law No. 6 (Art. 25), employers are also obligated to offer a nursery for children below the age of four if there are more than 50 female workers or more than 200 workers total.
Registration and approval: To establish a nursery, a request must be submitted to the Women and Childhood Administration, along with a copy of the applicant’s identity card, proof of nationality, and a copy of his/her academic qualifications along with the original certification, and the certificate of the applicant’s social insurance which serves as proof that he/she is not working in the public or private sector. If the nursery specialises in providing special education, the applicant must submit approval from the Public Authority for the disabled. He/she must also be of Kuwaiti nationality, unemployed in the public or private sector, over the age of 21, and have a university degree. If the building in which the nursery is to be established is independent, the applicant must provide proof of his/her neighbours’ consent as well as that of the mayor of the area.
Regarding the infrastructures, no buildings are allowed to be rented out [by the applicant] except upon attaining the permission of the Women and Childhood Administration. The ground floor must also be used for classes and there must be separate rooms for games, sleeping, isolation, a restaurant, etc. The first floor can be used by the administration. The conditions of safety and security in addition to providing car parking, a playground, three classrooms, a sleeping room for infant children (still being breastfed), and an isolation room for infant children. Bathrooms must also be provided in the establishment. They must be suitable in relation to the size of the children.
Licence: The body that licences nurseries is the Women and Childhood Administration of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. The Ministry provides this licence to non-state nurseries (Law No. 22, 2014, Art. 14).
Profit-making: No information was found.
Taxes and subsidies: Although the government does not completely fund non-state education, it is generally heavily subsidised. The government provides funds to non-state ECCE institutions in addition to allocating land and distributing materials.
Curriculum and education standards: Kindergartens follow either a foreign curriculum aligned with the country of origin or an Arabic curriculum. The foreign kindergartens have their own structure, curriculum, and policy that follows that of the country of origin and not the government curriculum. Kindergartens typically focus on three different developmental areas: intellectual, psychological-motor, and emotional, which is in accordance with the requirements of the 2014 Law No. 22 (Art. 6). The curriculum further focuses on the philosophy “learn through play,” whereby children are given freedom in the classroom to develop in different ways. A few different components of the kindergarten curriculum include Islamic teaching, mathematics (i.e. through activities involving making sets, identifying patterns, and counting), art, music, and imaginative play. The different components of the kindergarten curriculum cover concepts in the field of language, mathematics, science and different arts through various educational activities that include working groups with the rooting of educational values and habit formation.
Teaching profession: Pre-school education classrooms typically have a class teacher and an assistant teacher, whereby each is required to have a bachelor’s degree. They also receive the same salary. In nurseries, a supervisor is defined as a woman who provides the children with care and ensures that their environment is safe and secure. She must have a bachelor’s degree in education. The assistant supervisor is tasked with assisting the supervisor in caring for the children, and she must at least have a high school degree or equivalent in addition to having taken a 6-month-long training (course) in the field of education and first aid (Law No. 22, 2014, Art. 21). Only women can be hired to work in nurseries (Art. 10). At kindergarten level, each class of the first and second level contains two or three teachers, all qualified with a degree in kindergarten and education. The teachers are subject to continuous training from the beginning of the job and during the service according to the need and the educational developments.
Fee-setting: Foreign nurseries and kindergartens charge fees for the admission of students.
Admission selection and processes: Children admitted to nurseries must be between certain ages: 30 days to less than 2 years (infancy stage), 2 until 2.5 years of age (weaning stage), children between 2.5 and 3 years of age, and those who are between 3 and 4 (Law No. 22, 2014, Art. 19). To be admitted to a non-state nursery, children must have copies of a form signed by the parent/guardian of the child, including his/her approval to provide the child with aid in emergencies (Art. 20). Children must also provide three personal photographs, a medical report, a copy of the parents’ IDs and a copy of the child’s birth certificate and vaccination certificates.
Policies for vulnerable groups: No information was found.
Reporting requirements: No information was found.
Inspection: The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour has coordinated with the Investigation Department in the Ministry of Interior to take legal measures against nurseries that violate the health and safety of children. According to the Law of the Child, the state is responsible for getting involved in the case of crises or pandemics to ensure the health and safety of children through the Department of Oversight of Private Nurseries.
Child assessment: No information was found.
Sanctions: No information was found.
Registration and approval: Opening a non-state school is subject to the approval of the Municipality, the Fatwa and Legislation Department, the Ministry of Education, and the Council of Ministers. According to the 2014 Ministerial Resolution No. 86, non-state establishments are allowed to exploit vacant government school buildings in exchange for compensation that is to be paid to the Ministry of Education. To obtain a non-state school contract, several documents must be submitted to the Ministry of Finance, which include a letter from the Kuwait Municipality stating the site installation and removal of constraints; the project area chart approved by the Municipality; the project blueprint approved by Municipality; the preliminary study including project cost/project schedule; a copy of the civil ID of the authorized signatory; a copy of the power of attorney; the Ministry of Commerce and Industry licence; a bank statement; a certificate of Kuwaiti employment fulfilment from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour; and the approval of the accounting headquarters approval, the Fatwa and Legislation Department, the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Education. No information was found on the infrastructure requirements of non-state institutions.
Licence: Non-state schools are required to obtain a licence issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. They should also obtain a certificate of Kuwaiti employment fulfilment from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. It is not mentioned in the legislation if the owner needs to be registered as a trust or a society.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): In a recent WASH program evaluation, Kuwait was found to meet 100% of the basic water and sanitation needs of children in all schools; however, no regulation was found on WASH in non-state institutions.
Profit-making: Most non-state schools are for-profit and no specific regulation was found on the maximum amount of profit allowed. However, the government oversees the amount charged for tuition fees.
Taxes and subsidies: Private providers are encouraged to enter the educational market in exchange for tax benefits or exemptions. The government also provides funds to non-state institutions in addition to allocating land and distributing teaching and learning materials. However, no further details were found on such processes besides the case of public-private partnerships.
Curriculum and education standards: The 1967 Decision No. 10664 stipulates the provisions for the academic system at non-state schools. Currently, most international non-state schools provide a curriculum aligned with that of their country of origin. However, all non-state institutions are required to follow the general objectives of education in the State of Kuwait and Islamic values according to the 1996 Law No. 24 (Art. 3). Non-state schools are also expected to teach about the local culture and Arabic.
Textbooks and learning materials: The state supports, through the Benevolent Fund, the care of needy students up to a limit of 16,500 students. It provides them with teaching materials.
Teaching profession: As many non-state schools offer foreign curricula, teachers have traditionally been sourced from the countries of the respective curricula. Kuwaitisation policies by the Ministry of Education since 2017 have attempted to limit and restrict the recruitment of foreign staff. The Teacher Development Unit of the National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) is responsible for issuing teaching licences, supporting new teachers in developing their skills, and providing opportunities for professional development (Decree No. 308, 2006). The Ministry of Education dedicates a page to the rights and duties of teachers in terms of attitudes towards the profession, learners, parents, and the community. However, this decree does not note if this applies to the private sector as well. In accordance with the 2020 Circular 281862 on Compliance with the Payment of Workers Salaries in Private Schools, the Ministry of Education will take (punitive) measures against non-state schools that do not pay their workers their salaries, all of which is without prejudice to the Ministry’s right to shut down/close schools that are not in compliance (with this circular).
The country adopted the 2010 Labour Law promulgating the Law of Labor in the private sector. In this regard, the provisions of this Law shall apply to all workers in the private sector.
Corporal punishment: UNICEF published that Human Rights Watch has been informed by the Kuwaiti government on multiple occasions that corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited by statute. In 2015, the government cited the Preamble of the School Systems Regulations stating: “corporal punishment and hurtful or humiliating remarks are totally inadmissible; a calm, impassive and even-tempered approach must be adopted; penalties should be imposed in a fair and equitable manner and not on the basis of mere suspicion; punishment must be viewed within a proper pedagogic context and should be carefully designed to prevent, correct and remedy unacceptable modes of behavior; if a student’s personality or educational performance is adversely affected by the imposition of any form of punishment, the school’s psychosociologist must study the case and formulate a remedial course of action” (p. 3).
Other security measures and COVID-19: In the attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, schools and educational institutions have adopted remote learning measures, with all state and non-state schools/institutions doing so since the start of the 2020/21 school year. This is following the suspension of all state schools in March 2020, although most non-state schools continued the 2019/20 academic year online (despite the physical closure of all institutions). Although state and non-state Grade 12 students were allowed to take their final exams in their schools in 2021, “students were required to follow all health requirements such as social distancing, wearing a mask, sterilizing hands, and measuring body temperature before entering the test room.” In addition, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society sent volunteers to distribute masks and sanitisers to students and teachers entering the schools.
Fee-setting: The Ministerial Decree of May 2016 suspended all fee hikes. Annual fee increases were capped at 3% for the 2015/16 academic year. In 2019/20, the Parliament issued a resolution suspending further increases in non-state school fees. The Ministry of Education intends to ensure fair and stable tuition fees based on consultation with independent financial experts.
Admission selection and processes: No information was found on regulations for admission to non-state schools. However, the Ministry of Education has put in place processes for students who wish to transfer from state to non-state schools and vice versa. This process requires students to provide a transfer certificate attested by the school district as well as demonstrating the approval of the receiving school.
Policies for vulnerable groups: The Bidoon population is considered a stateless minority. The Central System to Resolve Illegal Residents’ Status, which was created by the 2010 Royal Decree 467, would theoretically guarantee free education to the Bidoon children under the Charitable Fund for the Education of Needy Children; however, reports have shown this has not been consistently the case. Although documented Bidoon (in possession of review/ID cards) have access to non-state education (i.e., schools and universities), those without review cards or who experience administrative difficulties in renewing them may lead such individuals to become undocumented (p. 8). In fact, in 2019, the Ministry of Education no longer allowed the admission of Bidoon students to state schools and suggested that parents enrol their children in non-state schools. In such schools, parents pay 30% of the tuition fees, with the remaining 70% paid for by the state. Nonetheless, schools often refuse to accept such children by claiming that “their parents destroyed their real identification documents to allow them to pass as Bidoon and benefit from state subsidies.” Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry of Education as represented by the Private and Model Education Sector issued a decision refusing to allow students with disabilities to complete the 2019/20 academic year (along with other non-disabled students). However, it also declared that the former category of students enrolled in non-state schools would not be allowed to continue with their education remotely for the 2020/21 academic year as well.
School board: No information was found.
Reporting requirements: The financial rules governing non-state education (Decision No. 10664, 1967). Under the 1972 Ministerial Resolution No. 156 (Art. 1), a department under the Ministry of Education is in charge of the financial supervision of non-state and non-governmental establishments. A minimum working capital set by the Ministry of Education should be proven with supporting documents and approved before the school can operate (Art. 5). Inspectors and auditors have the right to conduct periodic reviews of financial documents and records (Art. 2), and the school’s budget should be submitted annually (Art. 4).
School inspection: The National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) works in cooperation with the Ministry of Education to carry out school inspections. The Measurement and Evaluation Unit is responsible for monitoring performance as well as developing measurement methods in institutions (Decree No. 308, 2006).
Student assessment: The 1967 Decision no. 10664 stipulates the provisions for the examinations at non-state schools, noting that final exams are compulsory for all students. In addition, the Department of Examinations and Evaluations at the Ministry of Education organises examinations for those completing their secondary studies. In addition to school exams, the National Centre for Educational Development is responsible for implementing tests and evaluations for high school graduates before entering universities in both the public and private sectors (Decree No. 308, 2006, Art. 5).
Diplomas and degrees: No information was found.
Sanctions: The Ministry of Education has the jurisdiction to close and liquidate non-state schools. The decision also includes the justification and procedures the Ministry of Education is to follow. Additional information could not be located (Decision No. 10664, 1967).
There is one state university, the Kuwait University, and one state vocational education institute, the Public Authority for Applied Education & Training, which is the government authority that regulates and provides vocational education and training provision. In addition, there are 11 non-state tertiary education institutions. Some non-state universities, such as Kuwait’s American University of the Middle East, were constructed and developed by certain holdings groups, such as HUMANSOFT. Other local companies that have investments in educational institutions include the National Offset Company, Educational Holding Group (EDU), and the Kuwait Education Fund. A social reward of approximately 330 USD (100 Kuwaiti dinars) is paid to Kuwaiti students studying at their own expense in an accredited non-state university according to the 2011 Ministerial Resolution No. 28.
Registration and approval: Creating a non-state university or college requires a letter from Kuwait Municipality and the Municipal Council Resolution of location-allocation detailing the site installation. The project should be approved by Kuwait Municipality and a bank guarantee should be provided. A certificate of Kuwaiti employment fulfilment from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour should be obtained, and the final project should be approved by the Fatwa and Legislation Department, the Council of Ministers, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Private Universities Council. In accordance with Article 1 of Law No. 24 of 1996, the government declared that it will develop the buildings of colleges, institutes, and the centres of Kuwait University and the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training within no more than five years of 1996 (the issuance of the law). Such developments would prevent the mixing of the sexes by establishing designated areas for female students in buildings, study halls, laboratories, offices, and all facilities so that they can comply with the building requirements. No information was found on the infrastructure requirements of non-state higher education institutions.
Licence: A licence from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry should be obtained for universities. Non-state vocational training institutes must obtain a licence from the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training. According to the Ministerial Decision 67/46601 (Art. 6) and its amendments regarding the regulation of non-state education, licences are renewed every three years for non-state education institutions, during which the educational level is specified as well as the area in which the institution is located.
Profit-making: No information was found.
Taxes and subsidies: No information was found.
Curriculum and education standards: The National Bureau for Academic Accreditation and Education Quality Assurance (NBAQ) was established in the 2010 Decree 470 under the Ministry of Higher Education with the aim of improving the level of programs of higher education institutions.
Teaching profession: No information was found.
Fee-setting: No information was found.
Admission selection and processes: No information was found.
Board: No information was found.
Reporting requirements: No information was found.
Inspection: The 2010 Decree 470 (Art. 6) states that the National Bureau for Academic Accreditation and Education Quality Assurance (NBAQ) is responsible for setting the rules, standards and controls for evaluation and quality as well as the academic, programmatic, and institutional accreditation in higher education institutions. It also determines the procedures and components required for higher education institutions to obtain academic accreditation.
Student assessment: No information was found.
Diplomas and degrees: The Ministry of Higher Education issues decisions on the recognition and equivalency of foreign degree programs on a case by case basis for Kuwaiti nationals and publishes them on its website. In addition, it issues regulations on the transfer of credits and other requirements for obtaining a degree. No additional information on regulations for diplomas and degrees was found.
Sanctions: No information was found.
No law or regulations could be located on private tuition (tutoring). However, newspaper articles state that it is illegal and the Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Interior conduct raids where they suspect private tutoring is being engaged in. It has also attempted to open several evening centres/night schools to reinforce students’ knowledge that cost lower prices while also establishing an educational channel that offers scientific and literary lessons to students. Nonetheless, the newspaper articles suggest that private tuition is widespread.
No information was found.
The Ministry has annually warned teachers and has required some to sign pledges confirming that they will not provide private tutoring lessons once they sign their teaching work contract.
This profile has been drafted by the Al Qasimi Foundation to support the PEER evidence base for the 2021/2 GEM Report on non-state actors in education. It has been reviewed by:
منى إبراهيم الأنصاري
ناديه عبدالعزيز المسلم
سهام أحمد القبندي