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The recommendations concern only public schools, as private schools conducted e-learning classes throughout the pandemic and ended the school year on schedule. Image Credit: REUTERS

Kuwait City: Due to the pandemic, the cabinet of ministers is set to decide during their meeting tomorrow on ending the 2019-2020 school year as per the recommendations of the Minister of Education, Dr. Saud Al Harbi. The government suspended all public schools on March 12 and extended the suspension until August 4. The 2020-2021 school year for public schools was scheduled to begin on December 1 as the government did not approve e-learning in replacement.

“The government has set up an e-learning platform but students have been complaining that they can not access it,” Dr. Duna Al Mashaan, an educational consultant K-12, told Gulf News.

Al Harbi will be proposing that the school year for public schools ends for kindergarten students up until 11th grade students. As for 12th graders, they are to continue e-learning and the ministers will decide on how and when they will complete their final examinations.

According to Al Harbi’s report, published by Al Qabas, all students’ grades will be based on the first semester and all students that have passed more than 4 subjects will move onto the next grade. In addition, final examinations for 12th grade students will be conducted in schools during the second week of September.

As for the reopening of schools, Al Harbi’s report proposes that the 2020-2021 school year begins between October 4 and 11. If the COVID-19 situation does not settle, then classes will be online.

“Online learning is behind us now. Today, we need to be concerned with how we get our kids back to the classroom. E-learning was a temporary solution to help get the students by for the first few months of COVID, but continuing e-learning long term is not feasible nor productive,” explained Al Mashaan. These recommendations concern only public schools, as private schools conducted e-learning classes throughout the pandemic and ended the school year on schedule.

Wellbeing of the children

“Students need the structure of the classroom. The longer you keep them out of school, the harder it will be for them to go back to school,” added Al Mashaan.

Al Mashaan also pointed out that, “there is a negative psychological impact of keeping kids away from school and from their friends. I don’t think the ministry’s decision is taking into account the side effects of being home with no intellectual or social stimulation. If these kids don’t get back to school they will fall behind may never be able to catch up academically."

Schools across the world are trying to find ways to get students back into the classroom by September. Some have proposed a hybrid method, where half the students conduct lessons in the classroom while the other half takes online classes, and then they switch.

“Parents should have the option of sending their kids to school or keeping them at home with e-learning; particularly children with underlying medical conditions or those with concerned parents.” Al Mashaan explained.

Kuwait should complete its five-phase plan back to normality by September.

“As the economy reopens, how are parents expected to go back to work, while their children stay at home?” said Al Mashaan.

Fate of teachers

Last month, private school teachers were laid off as schools were not able to pay salaries during this period. This decision came after the Ministry of Education asked schools not to demand payment from parents.

“The teachers are as confused as the parents and children. They have not been given any information as to when schools would resume nor have they been informed of any alternative plans,” Al Mashaan said.

Teachers have been barred from travelling, as they are asked during passport control to present an exit visa permitted by the Ministry of Education, Al Anba reported.

For those that are in Kuwait, many teachers found it difficult to renew their residency due to bureaucratic challenges, according to a report by Al Qabas.