By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: Following the announcement by the Civil Service Commission that Thursday would be a holiday on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday, Kuwait experienced on Wednesday an unusual absence of traffic jams that typically congest the streets. This smoother flow of traffic, particularly in the early morning hours, was a result of many students and employees choosing to begin their holiday one day early. This mass absenteeism has become a regular occurrence before every official holiday and is now considered normal behavior among students and employees, particularly in the country’s public institutions.

During these times, there is also an increase in the number of people traveling for the weekend, often to nearby countries that are easily accessible. However, several official authorities in Kuwait have previously announced their intention to adopt a stricter policy toward absent students and employees in order to deter this behavior, which can disrupt public services. Kuwait Times conducted visits to various public institutions and observed a high percentage of absenteeism among employees who were supposed to be on duty.

Clients visiting these institutions to complete paperwork were surprised by the mass absence of employees, leading to delays in processing their requests until after the holiday. Meanwhile, despite the ministry of education’s prior announcement of strict penalties for students who do not attend school on official holidays, both public and private Arabic schools in Kuwait experienced widespread absenteeism among students, according to school principals interviewed by Kuwait Times. School principals expressed their frustration with the lack of commitment among students and parents, who allow their children to skip school.

They explained that this collective behavior is the primary reason behind the decision to skip school. On the other hand, a parent of one of the students told Kuwait Times that the responsibility for skipping classes and school does not solely rest with the student, as parents cannot compel their children to attend school when there are no teachers present. She cited two reasons for this behavior persisting for a long time. “Firstly, there is no enforcement of the strict laws established by the ministry of education.

Secondly, some schoolteachers pressure students to skip these days, as they threaten to reduce grades if any student comes to school,” she claimed. This issue, which has become commonplace among people in Kuwait, is less prevalent in the private sector, whether in foreign schools or workplaces, where laws and penalties are strictly enforced.

Workplaces, in particular, do not tolerate absenteeism on these days without a genuine excuse. The reasons for skipping schools and workplaces vary from one individual to another, whether it’s by using fake sick leave, citing personal issues or simply not attending without any valid reason. This behavior negatively impacts the country, leading to disrupted services and significant financial burdens to compensate for suspended workdays.