Nestled in the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait may be considered small compared to its neighbours, but this little oasis packs quite the punch for international school teachers.
Around 70% of Kuwait’s total population is made up of expats, meaning that there is a strong western influence in the country. That being said, teaching at an international school in Kuwait can be a rewarding experience for educators looking to teach in a multicultural environment. And there are plenty of schools to choose from.
International schools in Kuwait typically follow either an American, British or International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, so teachers with experience in these curricula are currently in great demand. Some of these schools are also accredited by organisations such as the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), the Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Typically, an international school in Kuwait will offer competitive salaries, accommodation or housing allowances, health insurance, and other benefits. Kuwait is also a tax-free country, which means that teachers can potentially save a significant amount of their income. Making it a very attractive location for teachers that are new to overseas education or those that come with a wealth of experience. Outside of school, Kuwait offers a unique cultural experience with a mix of traditional Arab and modern Western influences. The country is also known for its hospitality, and expatriates are often welcomed and supported by the local community.
However, it is important to understand that living and teaching in Kuwait can also come with its challenges. The country has a hot and arid climate, which may not be suitable for everyone, particularly if you are travelling from cooler climates. The culture and customs may be different from what teachers are used to, and there may be language barriers to overcome. Expatriates living in Kuwait also need to be aware of the country’s laws and regulations, which can be strict and conservative. For example, alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited in public, and there are dress codes and other social norms that foreigners need to follow.
It is crucial that you do your research so that you are prepared for the cultural differences and potential challenges that may arise. It is essential that you also spend time researching the specific international school that you are considering applying for. If possible, try to talk to current or former teachers to get a better idea of what to expect.
More about Kuwait:
Kuwait is a country located in the Middle East, on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Iraq to the north and west, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and the Persian Gulf to the east. It is a small country, with an area of around 17,820 square kilometres (6,880 square miles), making it one of the smallest countries in the region.
Having come through rapid development and plenty of political turmoil in the 1980s and 1990s, Kuwait is now a stable country with an oil-rich economy and a booming expat population. The country has a population of around 4.5 million people, with a large expatriate community living and working in the country.
The official language of Kuwait is Arabic, which is widely spoken throughout the country and lessons are mandatory in all schools. Kuwaiti Arabic is the local dialect spoken by the majority of Kuwaitis and is distinct from other dialects of Arabic spoken in the region. However, due to the large expatriate community, English is also widely spoken and understood, particularly in international schools, businesses, and government offices. Other languages spoken include Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, and Bengali, among others, which are primarily used by expatriate communities from South Asia and the Philippines.
Between the end of October and mid-April, the temperatures in Kuwait are usually somewhere in the twenties (degrees C). From May to September, however, it’s not uncommon to see highs of 45 degrees Celsius. Due to the intensity of the summer heat, the international school term finishes in mid-June, giving teachers approximately 10 weeks’ holiday over the summer.
Teaching in Kuwait with a family
If you are travelling with a family and have children of school age, you may want to consider whether the international school setting is the right fit for them.
Kuwait’s international schools are usually large in size. Some schools have over 2000 students on campus; where the average class size is 25 students or less.
Make sure you have the necessary qualifications to teach in Kuwait. This typically includes a degree in your subject specialism and a Bachelor’s in Education for Primary teachers, as well as relevant teaching experience.
Be open-minded: Kuwait is a culturally diverse country, and you will likely encounter customs and practices that are different from what you are used to.
Learn some Arabic: Even basic phrases and greetings can go a long way in building relationships and showing respect for the local culture.
Embrace the experience: Teaching in an international school in Kuwait can be a unique and rewarding experience. Use the opportunity to learn and grow as an educator, immerse yourself in a new culture, and make lasting connections with people from all over the world.