KUWAIT: This archive photo shows the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad A-Jaber Al-Sabah lighting the 'Torch of Education' during a ceremony to announce the resumption of education after Kuwait was liberated from the Iraqi invasion in 1991. - KUNA

KUWAIT: It has been 30 years since the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad A-Jaber Al-Sabah lit the torch of education after Kuwait was liberated from the Iraqi invasion in 1991. During the 'Torch of Education' ceremony which was held at Bayan Palace, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad said "the Tyrant of Iraq sought to obliterate everything in Kuwait including education, but today Kuwait is gradually returning to normalcy."

Schools, which were once bustling with students who were eager for the pursuit of knowledge, were shut down and turned into prisons and/or incarceration centers during the seven-month Iraqi occupation. After the liberation, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad gave instructions to draw up educational development plans in order to keep pace with education standards worldwide and enhance education in Kuwait.

Significant efforts were made to contribute to the Amir's vision of boosting education and indeed Kuwait witnessed a great progress, leading ultimately to a decrease in illiteracy. In fact, Kuwait always considered education to be an important pillar of society development, as stated in Article 13 of the constitution: "Education is a fundamental requisite for the progress of society, assured and promoted by the State."

Throughout the years, education in Kuwait developed in many phases. The beginnings were limited to learning and memorizing the holy Quran, Arabic and basic Math principles. Since then, education progressed and developed until the opening of the first school: Al-Mubarakiya in 1911, which was the foundation of education in Kuwait. Ten years later, the second school opened and was named Al-Ahmadiya. Moreover, the first school for girls 'Al-Wusta' opened in 1937, followed by Al-Qibliya, the second school for girls.

Education faced several challenges and setbacks: the Iraqi invasion and occupation in 1990-1991 and the recent was the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 forced suspension of education for a couple of months, but the Ministry of Education worked hard on finding a solution to resume the school year as soon as possible, setting up an e-learning system through Microsoft Teams, which continued for about a year and half.

However, as Kuwait is accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to reach herd immunity, Minister of Education Dr Ali Al-Mudhaf recently announced that schools will reopen their doors on October 3rd 2021, taking into consideration health measures to ensure safety of students and teachers as it is the top priority of the Ministry. - KUNA