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Volume :17 Issue : 66 1992      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

EDUCATION IN KUWAIT, 1939 – 1943 IN LIGHT OF ADRIAN VALENCE’S TWO REPORTS

Auther : Dr. Najat Al-Jasem

 

         At the very start, education in Kuwait was religious and simple, performed in mosques and suited to the simplicity of the Kuwaiti society.  The objective of education at that time was to preserve the Islamic belief and to protect the growing children through the proper Islamic education.

         The pupil used to learn the principles of the Islamic religion such as doctrine, rites, the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the interpretation of some verses from the Holy Quran.

         As for the Katateeb (primitive Schools), they were also known in Kuwait as well as in most of the Islamic states.  It may be said that their start in Kuwait dates back to the eighties of the nineteenth century.  There the pupil used to learn how to read the Holy Quran, which was the main teaching subject.  In addition to this, there were some “Katateeb” which taught reading and writing besides the Holy Quran.

         Teaching arithmetic (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication) started in 1983.  In addition to the “Khuttab”, there were some Diwanias where men, old and young used to meet.  The diwania was a room attached to the house where discussions and different kinds of talks were tackled and preaching circles were held.

         In fact, education in Kuwait was correlated with economic activities and the professions practiced by the people of Kuwait such as commerce and diving for pearls, which were jobs that required knowledge of reading, writing and calculation.

         Education was confined to males until 1916 when a lady called “Amina Al-Omar” started to teach girls how to read the Holy Quran.  Later on establishing “Katateeb” for girls started in 1926. A “Kuttab” was opened for teaching girls reading, writing, arithmetic, reading the Holy Quran, religion, embroiders and sewing woolen and cotton materials, the Kuttab was run by Mrs. Aisha Al-Azemiri.

          In 1911, Al-Mubarakia school was opened by donations from citizens.  Since that date modern education has started to take its way to organization.  But the “Katateeb” was not included in this process.  No modern education was established.  Thanks to citizens themselves and to the efforts of a number of savants and merchants who realized the necessity and the importance of spreading education and giving it top priority over any type of reform that “national education” was started.

         In 1921, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jaber (1921-1950) the Emir of Kuwait paid attention to developing the curriculum of the Al-Mubarakia school.  But as a result of the emergency of some obstacles on the part of the some rigid administrators in that school, it was decided to establish another school donations from the citizens and moral and material support from Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jaber.  This actually took place in 1921.

         This school, as well as Al-Mubarakia school, depended mainly on the merchants in financing it, so it suffered a heavy setback on account of international economic and financial difficulties, which prevailed in Kingdom.  All these factors had a bad impact on the merchants who were the main source of financing education in Kuwait.  Besides, a new stumbling block emerged in this respect; that was the opposition against the modernization of education, which was still regarded as a threat to Islamic principles.  Modernization of education was regarded as an unwelcome fad.  These difficulties, however, did not hinder the spreading and development of education.  The subjects taught at Al-Mubarakia and Ahmadia school were the Holy Quran, Tasfeer (Interpretation of religious principles) jurisprudence, Arabic, Islamic history related to the biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Wise Caliphs in addition to principles of geography, geometry and English which was restricted to Al-Ahmadia school only.

         Following the oil prospecting agreement on December 1934, education started to take more steady steps as of 1936.  It was decided that education should be put under the governmental financial supervision, which was approved by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jaber.  The Education Council was voted for and established in 1936.  It was the highest body in charge of education and it was interested in scholarships and establishing schools besides recruiting an educational mission from Palestine in 1936 – 1937.  This mission consisted of four Palestinian teachers who had not attained the secondary certificate (except one).

         With the rise of a strong national feeling and a growing interest on the part of the Kuwaiti authorities and Kuwaiti people towards the expansion of education, the British authorities found it necessary to interfere in the educational affairs and direct them in such as way so as not to expose the British interests to any threat.  To achieve this end, the British Commissioner in the Arabian Gulf requested the Ruler of Kuwait in the 1939 to approve of a visit by vallance to put forward the required suggestions deemed necessary for the development of education in Kuwait.  Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jaber agreed, so did the Education Council.  This didn’t mean that Fancy or the British authorities were in a position to interfere in the Kuwait educational policy.

          Vallance submitted his first report in June 1939 in which he tackled the educational problems such as the educational staff, students and their standard and punctuality.  The report too touched upon the national feeling, the importance of teaching children, curriculum, salaries and political enlightenment.  It also dealt with the importance of technical education.  A number of suggestions and recommendations were submitted in the hope of raising the standard of education and developing it within the Kuwaiti financial capabilities.

         These suggestions and recommendations, including medical care were hailed by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jaber and the Educational Council, but they didn’t accept the appointment of an educational supervisor in Kuwait.  However, they were forced to comply with this suggestion provided that the permanent seat should be outside Kuwait and that he should pay occasional visits only.  The Educational Council maintained that it was not committed to the execution of the suggestions put towards by the Supervisor.

         Vallance submitted his second report in October 1940 in which he dealt with “Katateeb” and village schools in addition to previous issues, education balance, enrollment systems and girls’ schools.

         Education also witnessed a remarkable progress in the forties as the Egyptian curriculum was adopted after being subject to some modifications, which coped with the requirements of the Kuwaiti society.

         With the first shipment of oil came an increasing interest in education and other public services on account of growing national income.  The government of Kuwait has been exerting sincere and steady efforts to spread education and develop it ever since.

 

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