Coronavirus in KuwaitKuwait

Foreign teachers anxious over exit permit news

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Saud Al-Harbi announced on Sunday orders to issue exit permits for expat teachers teaching in the public school system to leave the country. There are approximately 70,000 public school teachers in Kuwait, the majority of which are Arab nationals from Egypt, Syria and Palestine. The decision was a relief to some and disturbing to others.

Enas Al-Demardash, a 39-year-old geography teacher, told Kuwait Times that she has waited for this decision since they suspended schools. “Staying around your family is better than waiting here alone. It is great news and I cannot wait to travel back home,” she said.

As for Amna Raed, 35, Arabic teacher, this decision was not the best one for her. “Suspending schools till August and giving us a vacation now means that we have wasted our summertime,” she added. “The tickets will be extra expensive like the ones that evacuated Egyptians last week; it cost KD 121 per person for a one-way ticket and I cannot afford to pay that kind of money for me and my children. Plus, imagine wasting your vacation in a curfew in Egypt instead of Kuwait. It is the same situation.”

Adel El-Hakim, 41, math teacher, told Kuwait Times that the decision of getting home during this period is risky for his family. “My whole family are in Egypt, after the lockdown, I lost the hope of returning. At first, I was happy with the decision but when I think about it, do I really want to go to my children risking the chance of getting coronavirus in the airport or during any time of traveling? I stayed here to protect them and secure their lives,” he explained.

Becoming infected with the coronavirus isn’t Hakim’s only concern, he is also worried about any new decisions that might prevent him from coming back. “Kuwait recently has issued a lot of decisions, day after day. What if they suspect that we got the virus from Egypt and ended all teachers’ contracts? I’m risking not only my health but also my income.” EgyptAir has announced operating 14 flights starting March 24 to transport Egyptian teachers back home. Other airlines are expected to follow suit.

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