Education Minister Saud Al-Harbi

KUWAIT: Education Minister Saud Al-Harbi yesterday issued a ministerial resolution reducing tuition fees for the 2020-2021 school year by 25 percent compared to the 2019-2020 academic year. The decision is effective from the beginning of the new school year until students are allowed to return to classes.

Harbi stressed the need for private schools to activate their online learning platforms using virtual classes and various e-learning resources from the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year until students are allowed back on campuses. The minister also warned that schools may not hike fees prior to providing the 25 percent discount until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.

Harbi also authorized his assistant undersecretary for private and qualitative education affairs Abdul Mohsen Al-Huwailah to issue further regulations under this resolution, including ones related to online education, e-platforms, assessment methods and study plans, and hold schools that violate the fee reduction decision responsible.

Later yesterday, Harbi issued another decision to cancel fees for the 2019-2020 academic year due after Feb 26, 2020 for students of private Arabic schools from kindergarten to grade 11. Schools that fail to comply with the new decision face punitive measures as per the ministry's' regulations, the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, foreign private and bilingual schools are continuing procedures to complete the 2019-2020 school year, with classes to resume online from Aug 4, 2020, five days a week. A report in Al-Anbaa daily said the schools have asked students and parents to resume studies and complete the second term for all school stages. Notably, private schools were excluded from an education ministry decision earlier this month to end the 2019-2020 school year.

Parents had asked Huwailah to intervene and prevent private schools from demanding full payment of fees for the 2019-2020 academic year, but were met with silence. Sources alleged the education ministry's move to exclude foreign and bilingual schools in its decision to end the 2019-2020 school year was made so that the schools do not lose their right to demand full fees. Parents, however, argue that since schools were online-only from March 2020, they should not have to pay full fees for the last school year.

Meanwhile, unnamed educational sources quoted by Al-Rai Arabic daily said that the education ministry has started preparing the online education program for grade 12 students due to start on Aug 9, noting that the plan includes online quizzes. The school day will be of four hours - from 8:30 am till 12:30 pm.

The sources added that the public education sector agreed on a mechanism to monitor students' absence - a student who fails to log in to the portal for an entire week will lose one mark, while a decision on those who are absent for one or two days will be up to the teachers. Moreover, the sources said the ministry is currently considering offers it has received to reinforce communication networks in various schools, adding that teachers had already started training on using the program and how to prepare assignments, meetings and online tests. - Agencies