Saturday, 16 December 2006

Schools and Military in Kuwait

I am one of the 'army of expat teachers' teaching expat and Kuwaiti children here.

Half the population of Kuwait are expats from southern and south east Asia (who, on the whole are poorly paid and do all the manual work here) and westerners, who on the whole get well paid and hold managerial posts, mainly but not only in the oil industry. The Kuwaitis on the whole do as little as possible. These are generalisations and there are some southern and south east Asian managers and some Kuwaitis contribute much to their country, but neither westeners nor the Kuwaitis do any manual labour.

I teach at The English School (which is where the majority of the children from the American Embassy - 60 of them - are educated, because the American schools all have high proportions of Kuwaitis - with the resulting Aribic in the playground and bad behaviour. Kuwaiti children are brought up by maids and so the behaviour is poor). We have children from the British Military Mission. These servicemen are teaching the Kuwaiti military how to do their jobs. My class of 3-4 year olds consist of children from Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Britain, US, Canada, South Africa, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, India, and Scandanavia. We are the only not for profit private school, and the only school where English is the only language in the playground. There are many schools with the word English, British or American in the title who teach using the English language. There are government schools for Kuwaitis but anyone who can afford it send their children to private schools.

The American military are all in one of the two military camps here without their families and they rarely come into Kuwait itself. I belong to an expat choir here and we sing at one of the camps each Christmas. One of the camps is totally self contained, like a little town with different entertainment places etc and one woman who came to escort us to her camp told us that she had been there a year and that was the first time she had been out of the camp, seeing something of Kuwait.

Kuwait is the gateway to Iraq and I often see military personel and mercinaries (contract soldiers paid 'silly money' - their words, by the US government) having a spell of R&R at the Hilton Kuwait Resort before going home.