Education unionists from the EI-affiliated Kuwait Teachers’ Society (KTS) have shown their opposition to proposals to extend the number of school opening hours by protesting in front of the Ministry of Education.
The KTS Committee’s Chairman, Abdul Rahman Al Jasser, criticised the Kuwaiti authorities’ move because of the absence of social dialogue and consultation with professionals working in schools.
“The decision to extend school hours has been taken without any consultation with staff or any research into the matter. Teachers’ opinions on the subject should have been taken into consideration,” Al Jasser said.
The KTS chose to hold the protest on 5 October, as it was the first day on which the extended school hours were due to take effect, as well as being World Teachers’ Day.
KTS members were also urged to sign petitions to be handed over to the Education Minister.
Al Jasser added: “supporters can sign the petition that was distributed by fax to local schools, as well as visiting the KTS headquarters or branches in Ahmadi or Jahra.”
The KTS had warned in August that ‘the Education Minister is drawing the academic sector back to instability and the step taken by the Ministry shows officials do not understand the reality of the academic situation and its requirements’.
The Government of Kuwait wants to see civil servants’ working hours extended, especially as other nations within the Gulf Cooperation Council have adopted a similar approach. It regards the successful introduction of longer working hours in the banking and private sector firms as an indication of how such a system can be positively implemented in education too, with little regard for the well-being and needs of children or teachers.
EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, expressed the global union’s strong support for KTS, by stating: “We are fully behind our Kuwaiti colleagues’ demand to have their collective voice heard in all matters relating to education and especially their own terms and conditions. We call on Kuwaiti authorities to urgently engage in dialogue with KTS on this issue.”