Kuwait International School Defies ALL Logic

An email to ISR from an Educator in Kuwait:

    “It’s been a strange few months and the Coronavirus has certainly brought to the forefront the position to which International Educators are relegated in Kuwait’s International Schools. Some of us have lost our jobs, some have had our salaries cut, and some have had annual leaves magically shifted by a month. More recently, some staff at my school were told their future Contracts for the next academic year were ‘null and void.’

The Ministry of Education (MOE) have been quite clear about when and how government-run schools will operate in the face of the Coronavirus. By contrast, the procedures for those of us at private International Schools have been sabotaged by miscommunication followed by misinterpretation. From the very beginning, my school refused to follow MOE Covid-19 guidelines:  “No! We are in the private sector! These regulations don’t apply to us!” Fortunately, the Minister appeared on TV to inform private institutions that they, too, are subject to MOE rules.

Kuwait is in Phase 3 of the lock-down. Salons and restaurants remain closed, yet private schools are considered ‘safe.’ Always ready to take advantage of a situation, my school has ordered teachers back on campus to commence online teaching! The logic defies all reason! We must E-teach from campus buildings, which under normal circumstances have some questionable hygiene practices, or ‘risk not being paid.’

Why on EARTH would administrators want teachers in school buildings in the middle of a full-blown pandemic to do EXACTLY what we can do from the safety of our homes and, in fact, have been doing for many months? Government teachers have been at home this whole time. They did no teaching at all and received pay. Something is not right with this picture.

What about teachers who are out of country? What about those who will return midway through the month and be required to remain in captivity … sorry, quarantine? It’s understood their ability to E-teach from home will not be hindered by their inability to cross the threshold of the hallowed school buildings. None of this make sense to me.
One colleague surmised that at a time when school owners may be considering trimming the fat, administrators might be feeling vulnerable and looking for ways to appear essential to the operation of their schools. It’s far easier to appear essential when buildings are full of teachers.    

Whatever happens, in the short-term, teachers will remember who had their backs, who was honest, who was humble and who was understanding. And who was not! Thanks for your earlier newsletter Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19. A number of my colleagues, including myself, have named and shamed our school.


Disillusioned Educator 


Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion

15 thoughts on “Kuwait International School Defies ALL Logic

  1. Most people back home would struggle to believe 10% of the stuff that goes on in these ME schools, I’m sure that is how they keep going, people get sick of what they perceive to be terrible conditions back home, see the dollar signs and sign up, those of us who have had the misfortune of dealing with these outfits know how things really work and how quickly things can turn pear shaped as they have now! You need firm resolve and backbone to survive these places.

    My school in Oman was similarly ridiculous last term – having closed the school teachers were told that they could leave Oman only after the airport was shutdown (that was 5 months ago, it still is), teachers due to return for the next academic year would be permitted to go back to the UK on a repatriation flight (most couldn’t get tickets) while teachers due to move on (like myself) were not permitted to leave, no explanation given! Needless to say I left anyway and they then tried to wriggle their way out of paying me 3.5 months salary plus the gratuity I had earnt after three years – everything is about cash, the moral values on the website stretch no further than the marketing, a total sham. Fortunately I knew which parents to talk to and how to apply the right sort of pressure and they settled up, still not a position any of us deserve to be put in.

    To anybody reading this, do not take a job in Oman unless it is in one of the established embassy schools, no matter the salary, no matter what they tell you, it is not worth it. Oman is a great country but do it properly.


  2. The current situation is unprecedented and a school environment is too unstable from a health perspective. I guess a safe environment is your living space, where online teaching can be done without being exposed to asymptomatic viruses. Recently some staff attended schools were closed down in Kuwait, because of symptom carriers. As far as treating teachers badly regarding dismissals and paycuts on salaries. It’s abhor behavior from management and owners ~What goes around, comes around.


  3. I’m in KSA, Riyadh. Nothing makes sense here either. Everything is cash driven. I have been on an illegally lapsed visa for five and a half months. Employer (private contractor supplying high profile state -run quasi university) says go to work, it’s ok. Y’day, university says so too. Employer has had my passport in total for two and a half months trying to get it sorted out. No payment at all for three months over summer, employer now recommending l go back in until it’s finally fixed up. Willful misinterpretation all round. At this point, esl teaching at plus age 50, there are no rules. Embassies only offer lists of ineffective lawyers who will take half a month’s pay before they lift a pen. My employer is trying, as he put it, an “under the table” approach…meaning that tracking my document might need sonar!
    Are teachers such dummies worldwide that this only happens to us? I don’t think so really.
    If ever there was a need or a justification for sites like ISR then here it is.
    These sites are essential reading for any would-be foreign educator. Hats off to ’em!


  4. I was told my contract was cancelled a week before I was due back and that I was not eligible for the 90 days notice as the kuwait government had changed the law so that contracts are no longer binding


  5. I think that teaching internationally is a risk. We no the risks and take the benefits when times are good. You need to save some money for unexpected circumstances; we know the game we are in. If you want job security then stay at home in a state school. If you understand the risks, then enjoy the ride of international teaching. It’s more fun, with better savings but sometimes things go pear shaped. We need to be flexible; there is always a way. I also have a family and we always find a way forwards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We already remove many of our creature comforts and stable lifestyles in order to gain some benefits from teaching internationally


    2. I’m sorry I need you to clear something up for me. You are saying that it is okay for a teacher to work their ass off and not get paid, because we should know the RISK?!?!? I’m confused of how someone should be flexible doing a job and not getting their pay for their time and effort. All just because we should know what we are getting into. It is never okay to not pay someone if they do their job. I feel like this was written by someone who is administration at one of these BS school’s in the Middle East!!!


  6. Why would teachers want to be in the building to teach, instead of at home? Better internet, more technology devices, materials/equipment, colleagues to collaborate with, tech support, the support of admin, the ability to have privacy away from your family without interruptions, etc. In my country we have not mandated that teachers work from school, but we have offered all the support to make teaching from school attractive. 92% of the teachers have been working from school this week as they feel it helps keep the work/life balance and is easier than trying to teach from home with their families in attendance. We all wear masks, we socially distance, we take our temperatures, and we work as colleagues.


    1. Have to agree. Tired of looking at the same four walls. I prefer to be at school for all the above mentioned things.


  7. From what I can see, this treatment of teachers in international schools everywhere is par for the course. American and European educatord should stay home from now on and let these fly-by-nighr institutions prey upon the local crop of teachers.


  8. The MOE has mandated teaching from within the building even for government schools. If you check the most recent IG posts you will see the minister himself in a government school checking in on the G12 teachers. So, if your school has started e-learning they are on the correct side of the law.


  9. I have read that in the US that there are many public schools who are requiring teachers to be back in the classroom for virtual teaching while the students remain at home. Some of the justification has been accessibility to teaching materials, such as science labs, which makes sense. However, for us international teachers, I am also aware of a “us” vs “them” mentality as those of “us” in country are taking on more risk as opposed to those “them” who are out of the country teaching virtually. This scenario is a breeding ground for animosity as the face to face teachers or “live” teachers are more at risk since we are actually physically in the classrooms with students while there are still colleagues who are teaching from home. We will hear stories from out of the country like well, we don’t know what it’s like to be technically homeless, or living at a relatives house, or missing their apt and everyday life in the host country. While both sides have different pressures, different perspectives, all of which are valid….when we do all finally get together as one faculty again, I can only imagine what kind of post traumatic stress acting out may happen when our regular everyday teaching stressors start rising up again. I imagine there will be some minor hostilities to overcome, some teachers I know in country are pretty angry and jealous at those who have had the benefit of being “stuck” in their home countries. I imagine there will be a great need of transitional counseling as we find our way back to normal, whatever that means and whenever that is.


  10. I read this an can only wonder why you continue to be an accessory to modern day Indentured Servitude. Unless they have seized your passport, LEAVE!!! Why are do many international educators a door mat to cruel Heads of School and Boards? Have some dignity and self respect. Surely the money can’t be worth more than your integrity and self respect? There is a wonderful article on ISR about fleeing a terrible school, I suggest you read it.
    All this being said, I am responding under the assumption that you have the choice to leave. If the airport is closed or the Middle East lock down prevents any movement, ride it out and phone it in. When things left and you can catch the first flight out, book it and hash everything out from there. Life is too short to be a prisoner to rich parents and entitled children who pay you to work at a grade farm.

    Good luck and remember that NO ONE in admin will have your back! Their agendas and self preservation will always trump yours. Only you can take care of yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True. My words for this year’s candidates are simple: don’t torture yourself, where AIS Kuwait is concerned.


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