Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The trials and tribulations of schooling your English-speaking children in Kuwait.

The main difficulty seems to be actually finding the school open long enough to provide your children with any lessons. Consider the last couple of months:

In December the school had exams and most of the Arab parents saw no point in sending the children to school once they'd done the exams, so the place was nearly empty and very little got taught. Then the school closed for 3 weeks for Christmas, New Year, and Eid al Adha.

Finally, on the 14th of January the school started actually teaching again. However, on the morning of the 15th the Emir of Kuwait Sheik Jaber died, resulting in a 3-day period of mourning, during which the school was closed.

On the week of the 21st the school had another go at doing some teaching, and did manage to make it right through the week. But the 28th is the beginning of a two-week "spring vacation" based around the Hijri New Year on 4th of February.

Once that's out of the way the children will settle down for a punishing schedule of two whole weeks of school before we hit the Kuwait National Day and Liberation Day holidays around the 25th of February.

The gruelling schedule takes up again in March but there is the 3 months off over summer to look forward to. Somehow it doesn't surprise me to find that private tuition is a business enjoying explosive growth in Kuwait. My daughter's teacher is ready to bang her head on the desk at the impossibility of getting any conitinuity going - perhaps I should recommend she consider turning her numerous off days into a lucrative second income stream as a private tutor.

What really bites ass bigtime is that we're paying the school around US $10,000 for them to (theoretically at least) provide some schooling for our children. In practice, on top of that 10G's we also get to hire childcare for them, for all the time they're not actually at school because it's yet another effing holiday.

We don't have to spend the money of course - funding the school owner's Jag and his gambling/shopping/drinking trips to London isn't something anyone's forcing us to do, it's simply that the other option is state schooling with lessons in Arabic based around excellence in memorising the Qor'an and similar useful life skills - plus the same amount of holidays. I'm developing a sneaking suspicion that the school owners are branching out into the private tuition biz, and doing their best to drum up customers. Bugger that, I'm not throwing good money after bad, my kids will just have to grow up to enjoy life as proletarians.