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Women make up 72% of Kuwait teachers

Illiteracy rates steadily declining amid greater learning opportunities

Gulf News

Manama: Women make up close to three quarters of all teachers in Kuwait, an education official has said.

“Women have been making great strides in the field and, today, 72 per cent of all teachers in public schools, including kindergartens, are women,” Mariam Al Wateed, the education ministry undersecretary, said.

“At the same time, 72 per cent of the ministry staff are women. We have also reduced the percentage of illiteracy among women in the country to 4.2 per cent,” she said in remarks published by local daily Al Watan on Sunday.

The illiteracy rate among women was 6.2 in 2007, 5.9 in 2008 and 5.7 in 2009, she said. “We have been pressing for higher education opportunities for girls for decades. We had the first formal school for girls in 1937 and we had to recruit female teachers from Palestine and Egypt before Kuwaiti women started joining the teaching staff. The presence of Kuwaiti teachers helped us open new schools for girls in all areas of the country,” she said.

Education for girls and boys under the current laws in Kuwait is compulsory between the age of six and 16. “All students, regardless of their gender, have to attend elementary and middle school,” she said.

Women who missed their chance in schools have been able to resume their interrupted learning by joining adult education classes, the official said.

Education in Kuwait, like in the other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, is free in public schools. Kuwait has been at the forefront in pressing for the formal education of girls. The northern Arabian Gulf country has two women ministers in its current government amid a robust drive for a greater political empowerment of women. The first school for girls in the Gulf was established in Bahrain in 1929.