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It seems that never does a month go by without new stories surfacing about how Kuwait plans to deal with their burgeoning expat population.
Over the course of the last year we have reported that Kuwait is considering limiting expat stays, that Kuwait has discussed banning new expats and that Kuwait is introducing driving bans on expats for example.
Some of these suggestions never truly came into being after discussion, but others most certainly have gone ahead.
All the same it seems that expat numbers still aren’t falling fast enough for many government ministers in Kuwait. To this end the government has continued to examine possible areas where the proportion of expat talent could be reduced without the realignment having too much of a negative impact on the country as a whole.
Now, it seems, they have found a new target in the form of the education system.
Just a few years ago Kuwait introduced a sweeping change to how expat teachers were rewarded for moving to the Kingdom. This included higher wages, better working conditions and even a housing allowance in order to attract the best and brightest teachers from around the world. The intention was quite simply to turn Kuwait into an educational power-house and ensure the best possible start for the younger generation.
Now, however, it seems their policy could have backfired with ever more teachers flocking to Kuwait to take up highly paid positions in schools and colleges. Broadly speaking expat teachers in Kuwait get paid far more than most would in their home country, with job offers made before teachers even arrive in the country.
Now however it seems that Kuwait is growing increasingly confident in their home-grown talent and, having attracted a strong bank of teachers from overseas, is now free to “pick and choose”, prioritizing the recruitment of teachers in subjects where availability is at its weakest.
Just a short while ago Assistant Undersecretary for Public Education at the Ministry of Education Fatima Al Kandari reported new plans that will see the total number of expat teachers in Kuwait fall by some 20-25% over the course of 2016.
Rather than these cuts happening across the board, the Ministry of Education plans to focus on subjects where it is felt there is already existing Kuwaiti talent. Most notably the subject likely to receive the most cuts are the social studies, though few subjects are likely to escape unscathed.
Plans are in place to inform all teachers not required at least three months before their contracts are terminated, and that the majority of these cuts will be made before the beginning of the new academic year in September. The year of 2016/2017 will therefore bring in considerable changes to the Kuwaiti educational system and encourage more native teachers than ever before to take up their rightful roles.
Expat teachers currently working in Kuwait are advised to carefully consider their options in plenty of time. Even three months’ notice doesn’t provide a huge amount of time to find alternative employment, especially as expat workers without gainful employment will be expected to leave the country unless their partner is employed in the country.
Deciding on a plan of attack, should you be one of the unlucky teachers to be laid off, is well worthwhile in advance rather than waiting for that fateful letter to pop through your letterbox.
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