US mission, Iraqi teachers opened early English schools

KUWAIT: The education process in Kuwait officially started with the establishment of Al-Mubarakiya and Al-Ahmadiya schools in 1911 and 1921 respectively, marking a turning point in history of the country. With the inauguration of the American mission hospital and the increase of the numbers of foreigners and diplomats in Kuwait, people started paying much attention to learning the English language, especially when trade boomed after World War I, Abdulaziz Al-Rasheed said in his book titled “Kuwait History”.

Previously, unconventional schools, which were known as kuttabs, were the main source of education in the early 1900s. The education process was based on writing, reading and algebra. In his book titled “Old Crafts, Professions and Activities in Kuwait”, Mohammad Abdulhadi Jamal, historian and researcher in Kuwait’s heritage, said learning the English language caught people’s attention, so the US mission inaugurated the first school to teach English in 1917 and then the American mission hospital.

Jamal added that Ismail Kaddo opened the first private school, which taught English in Kuwait in 1925. Kaddo came from Mosul in Iraq to stay in Kuwait at that time on an invitation by Abdullatif Eissa Al-Abduljalil to teach his children English. The author noted that Kaddo joined the American mission school and then the British consulate. Jamal pointed out that Kaddo taught English at night at places close to Khalil Al-Qattan market in the east of the city. Kaddo was teaching a book called “Oxford” to youth and employees, Jamal said. The process at that time depended on translating some paragraphs.

Gergis Eissa School was also one of the first private facilities teaching English. Eissa, who was an Iraqi teacher, joined the American mission school and then opened his private school to teach English. Many from the first generation benefited from the Kaddo and Eissa schools. Some of them later opened a number of private schools to teach English to the next generation. Also, some other members of the first generation occupied key posts at Kuwait Oil Company when it was set up in the 1940s. Others worked at the British consulate as translators, while several others had prominent roles in politics and foreign companies working in Kuwait. – KUNA