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Kuwait’s new curriculum to be ready in two years

World Bank Education Manager Hana Brixi and WB Education Specialist Dr Ahmed Dewidar

World Bank Education Manager Hana Brixi and WB Education Specialist Dr Ahmed Dewidar

 KUWAIT: For the past two years now, the World Bank has test-piloted a new curriculum in 48 Kuwait schools. The curriculum is to be implemented in the next two or three years. The development of the new competency and standard-based curriculum in Kuwait is being done as planned by the World Bank in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to make sure of its success.

Kuwait’s current national curriculum was formulated by the Ministry of Education under the strict guidelines and supervision of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. Kuwait was ranked 63rd on the Human Development Index (HDI) report for 2011 by UNDP, or above the regional average. In 2005, the literacy rate of Kuwait was 94 percent, it said. Speaking at a media roundtable discussion yesterday at the WB Education Headquarters at Baitak Tower, World Bank Education Specialist Dr Ahmed Dewidar underscored that most important factor in the development of the new curriculum is that it’s not done by an international body. “We are here as facilitators to work with Kuwait’s Ministry of Education cadres - mainly teachers, educators, specialists, management and administrators - all education stakeholders are well represented.

We have been working with them, designing for the last two years what is now known as the ‘National Curriculum Framework’ on all subjects,” Dewidar revealed. According to Dewindar, the new curriculum touches primary from grades 1 to 5 with learning standards, then at the end of June, grades 6 to 8 will be ready. “We are currently working on the intermediate level. We have also trained 130 master teachers to train trainers who will train teachers,” he added. “In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we are now subjecting 48 schools in Kuwait for testing. Each region in Kuwait is well represented. We train principals not just as day-to-day managers of the schools, but as instructional leaders. Each of the 48 schools participating has individual plans.

We regularly visit the 48 schools to monitor their progress and they have presentations on their achievements and progress,” he said. “We are also concerned on the relationship between the schools and parents, and the relationship between the schools and the community. Those are areas we are looking at. Then in June, we are going to increase the test schools to 100 - this number is ideal until we achieve our goals. We are regularly collecting data too,” Dewidar mentioned. In addition, Dewidar also emphasized that along with the new standard curriculum being introduced was the continuous assessment of teachers. “This is for the benefit of students. We have created assessment tools for teachers. We also have standards on school leaderships, and standard exams, and we are going to focus on the quality of education and teaching methods,” he added.

The roundtable discussion yesterday was attended by World Bank Education Sector Manager Hana Brixi where she presented a report entitled ‘Strategic Choices Reform in Arab countries’. She mentioned that one of the most important subjects in the region is the strong quest for jobs and services. “The unemployment rate within the young people here is very high. So people here perceived that connections in the government or high ranking people in the government are very important.

To get the job, you need to know someone - this is also a fact in Kuwait and the rest of the Arab world,” she said. Relatively speaking, according to Brixi, skills and education seem to be very low in the Arab World. “What is interesting is that governments here put lots of emphasis on policy reforms - they have commitment to improve the quality of education and when you see their budgets, you will see they are spending quite a lot on education. The problem seems to be was that policies are not transmitted into practice.

Often the policies are well developed, but if you visit the schools, they are not being implemented,” she said. “So in our analysis, we see in depth - the first level is teachers: Probably they are not motivated, so it’s transmitted to the students, and the result is absenteeism. The number one problem here in the Arab world is absenteeism of students,” she explained. She mentioned several other elements that contribute to the growing problems in education and unemployment in the region, but assured reforms are underway in Kuwait and in some other countries in the Arab world.

By Ben Garcia

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This article was published on 12/03/2014