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Teaching in Kuwait

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by spanboy, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Dear all

    I have been looking at jobs in Kuwait and have done some searches on this forum; views vary between great and very bad. Does anyone have any up-to-date views/experiences on how things are over there, with particular reference to pupil behaviour, competent and fair SMTs, expected salary (including the 'package') and general cost of living in 2016?

    I am looking at a particular school but obviously can't name this on here.

    Either general replies or PMs would be very welcome and appreciated.

    Many thanks
  2. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    I just did a quick search for recent posts on teaching in Kuwait schools, using this forum and Google. It would certainly be on my list of places to go, just slightly above North Korea but below anywhere else on the planet. This would be for moral reasons and the way they treat Asian Nationals, behaviour and attitude of student reasons, the lack of standards and unchecked exam cheating, the fact that you seem to be at the whim of school owners, for the threat of terrorism, Kuwait Airways and actually, when you look at the tax-free salaries, they may well be tax-free but they are quite low. It also looks very boring. You won't have access to the limited entertainment places because they are only open to families. It looks like your entertainment choices will be eating, and strolling through shopping malls before eating again. I had a friend who used to read KES by Barry Hines because he was so bored and hated the book.
  3. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey New commenter


    I am currently working in Kuwait. From what I hear there is not much difference between the quality of schools in terms of what they offer job wise. There are big salary differences between schools,up to 1000 pounds a month. I think many pay based on where you come from and what they think you will accept. What ever they offer you ask for more, you might not get it but there is no harm in asking.

    The holidays are plentiful which is a plus as there is very little to do here. You will appreciate the holidays to get away from here.

    Do not expect it to be anything like the other ME countries. You cannot get beer or spirits but illegal alcohol is available it is god awful but sometimes you need a drink. It is dull and dirty and boring.We are two people who spend about 400 pound a month on everything. It is quite cheap to eat out and there are cinemas with English films.

    If your school does not like you they will get rid of you pretty sharpish and use any excuse, you have no protection, having said that it is not like they are swimming with applicants so teachers are getting fired left right and center.

    I have enjoyed my time here in general, mainly because of the opportunities to travel but I hope to leave this summer. Those that are here for a long time seem to fall into two categories, those who need to save money and those who can t get a job elsewhere. In general I would say it has been ok for a year or two but the thought of spending another year here is quite depressing.
  4. Hardwrker007

    Hardwrker007 New commenter

    Hi there,

    I taught in Kuwait last year and whilst I had a lovely class and supportive parents, I left due to HR and poor leadership/management. PM me if you want more details as I can only give a limited explanation below.

    Kuwait is a great country to travel from as it's slap bang in the middle of the other Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. It has great weather for most of the year apart from about 2-3months when it can get cold. There are lots of water sports and other sporting clubs you can get involved in which is great if you are sporty and athletic! Other than the gigantic malls and vast array of cuisines, there are a few cool markets that take place in the cooler months such as 'Qout' which sells organic foods, crafts and clothing. I enjoyed my 1 year stay and perhaps would have renewed my contract if the school sorted itself out but it seems as though it has been like this for years!

    In terms of schools, I can only comment on my own personal experience. I made the choice from leaving a school in London to teach abroad to widen my experience and also travel too. My school sugar coated a lot during the Skype interview but it wasn't until I realised just how inexperienced the Vice Principal and Principal were at leading the school. Also, a large proportion of the teachers did not care about delivering good quality lessons and were more interested in listening to their music during their free periods. They were more interested in the money and travelling and partying.

    I don't want to sound like a 'Bah! Humbug!' but at school as teachers we have a duty and responsibility to teach effective lessons and ensure our children make progress. It saddened me to see teachers behaving so carelessly at work and basically not caring about their children.

    Management did not have a clue what they were doing and because they were from different countries they wanted to bring everything from their own country and implement it into the school. The Principal was not qualified and always ran to other teachers including myself on how to assess, deal with parents, etc. My school also was guilty of fixing assessment results due to parent's requests and also because they were competing with their sister school.

    With regards to the package, they offered a salary which matched my salary back in the UK (after tax), furnished but shared accommodation very close to the school, utilities included too (apart from Wifi), one annual return economy ticket, pickup to and from the airport, government medical insurance. I think that was a standard package.

    My salary was decent for the first year but in December when they decided they wanted to renew my contract, HR also offered an increase. It was good but not good enough this was because the worst they had levelled everyone's pay the same so everyone received the same amount. E.g. Unqualified teacher from the UK was earning the same amount as a teacher with 5+ years experience. HR dismissed this when it was brought up by a lot of UK teachers.

    So overall, I would check out *** ( International Schools Review) and also keep reading posts on here to make your judgement but it also depends on what you want too. It is also important to remember that most schools are a business so I would opt for not for profit school.

    I am currently teaching in Oman now and I absolutely love it. All schools have their pros and cons but the school I am currently at is more structured, teachers care about their kids and there is no assessment fixing. As cliched as it sounds, we're all like one big international family making sure our kids achieve their best.

    I hope my insight helped!


  5. Roseea123

    Roseea123 New commenter

    Hardworker007 I've messaged you. Really want to know more as I've been offered a job in Kuwait but I have a young family and really need to take this seriously as don't want to put myself and children in a difficult situation. Thanks
  6. Roseea123

    Roseea123 New commenter

    Hi need some advice. I've been told keep away from Kuwait due to crime and issues. I've been told that if the job or accomodation is not in Salmiya then not to bother. The school I've been offered is not known to anyone and seems to be in an area full of Indian schools and the Internet it doesn't look great. It is the area close to the airport- jeleeb al ashuyoukh?. Do you class this as rough and places to avoid? Is it true that I should only apply to schools in Salmiya? Thanks
  7. desertestrella7

    desertestrella7 New commenter

    Pixiewixiepixie - you really made me laugh with your comment on it being on your list of places to go, just above North Korea!

    This is my 5th year in Kuwait, but despite that, I can't actually say I love the place. I don't really like it that much either... However, I have a plan, and the salary I am getting is helping me reach that plan a lot quicker than if I were still back home in the UK. That said, my first 2 years here were in an awful school, just out for making money and not interested in the students nor their education at all. Names not being allowed, suffice to say that it is named after one of the very famous university towns in the UK - like many countries over here, thinking that name automatically equates to that level of education.

    I lasted 2 years, was miserable but worked with a great team in Secondary, and we all left together. I escaped to Oman, like Hardwrker007 above, and had a fabulous year in a fabulous country. However, one of the really good schools in Kuwait offered me a job for the following year, doubling my salary, so I couldn't refuse. I don't regret coming back as the difference in schools is like chalk and cheese.

    There is not a lot of crime at all. I lived in Spain for 5 years and had my purse stolen twice on the bus, and our flat broken into. Nothing at all has happened to me, nor anyone I know here.

    In the time I've been here, things have changed as far as red tape is concerned. It has become very, very difficult to get a driving license for example. Those of you with families coming over here need to take that into account. I got mine on coming back, costing me about £400 in total, after getting my UK license (which I've held for 30 years!!!) legalised by the FCO, stamped by the Kuwait Embassy in London then stamped by various Ministry buildings here. And then you have to re-do your driving test on a 'toy town' street. In Oman, I got my license as soon as I got my Residency for about £40. Same as UAE. So look into that as taxis are not regulated and many don't have seat belts in the back.

    Kuwait is what you make it. People can, and are, treated appallingly, but they are in all of the ME, so it is up to you whether you come here based on that or not. I would never work in Saudi for those reasons. But people are also treated badly in parts of the UK, a sad reflection on all of us maybe. My mortgage is getting paid off, I am travelling to places for a lot cheaper than I would from the UK, I have wonderful students in front of me 5 days a week who are willing to learn, and I jump on a plane to Dubai every 6 weeks or so for a real drink.

    Reading about Kuwait on this forum is interesting as people either love it or hate it. I hated it for 2 years. Now I'm in a good school, I enjoy it more, but don't love it. That is my choice though...
  8. chocolat

    chocolat New commenter

    I have PMd many of you in hopes of getting information about a school in Kuwait.
    It is a "universal" school that is American.
    Also, what are the private beaches like in Kuwait ?
    Are the movie theaters nice and do they offer the latest movies each week ?
    What are the spas like ?
    What is the cost of a membership to a really good gym ?
  9. musikteech

    musikteech Occasional commenter

    Yikes! Couldn't you just have driven anyway without a Kuwaiti licence? Who would know? and can't you just get an international licence from the post office and use that in Kuwait? Save all that money
  10. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    International licenses as far as I know can only be used for a limited amount of time before you need the local one
  11. tica

    tica New commenter

    The difficulty and expense of obtaining a Kuwait driving licence has been a deal breaker for some. It is possible but to live there without a car but life is so much easier with one. International licences can only be used by those on visitors visas. Once you have residency you must have a Kuwaiti licence.
  12. musikteech

    musikteech Occasional commenter

    I'm surprised about Hardwk007's post about the unqualified teacher from the UK working in Kuwait. I was rejected by ADEC in the UAE last month for not being qualified to teach maths, since I'm music qualified but have A level maths and have taught it at GCSE at UK schools before. So, I'm surprised that he could get a job in Kuwait and was on a similar salary to qualified teachers
  13. musikteech

    musikteech Occasional commenter

    why does it cost £400 to get a Kuwaiti driving licence?
  14. musikteech

    musikteech Occasional commenter

    Most car renters at Abu Dhabi airport required an international licence to hire a car in the UAE but there was one hirer who hired to expats with licences from their own countries. I hired one with this company using my UK license. He was the only company though who did it.
  15. chocolat

    chocolat New commenter

    After lots of research and googling, I am still reading mixed reviews about Kuwait.
    Can anyone shed some light about their experiences living there ?
  16. iqsox

    iqsox New commenter

    Hi Hardwrker007,

    Thank you for posting such a detailed post on teaching in Kuwait.

    I was just wondering what part of Kuwait you were working in? What was it like there? I've been offered a job and have heard it depends on the location of the job as well as the school you are working in.

  17. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Which is exactly what you will always get. A rare few will tell you they loved it, many/most people will tell you that didn't like it but it was tolerable for two years, another significant chunk will tell you that they hated it and wouldn't wish it on their worst enemy.

    Take the average. Very few take the job because it is in Kuwait so assume if you take a job there it will be in spite of the location. On the whole, it seems like a survivable place for a few years and is probably better than many other places that you have seriously considered over the years. If you are offered a job there then you should probably take it to get yourself back into the game. Pay your dues and then look to upgrade schools and regions.
  18. desertestrella7

    desertestrella7 New commenter

    As I said in my post, musikteech, first of all you have to get a UK lawyer to certify & sign a coloured photocopy of your UK license (£25-95 - depending on your lawyer. Mine is my best friend and it cost me the price of a tall americano in Starbucks...). Then you post it to the FCO in Milton Keynes to be legalised: £30 + £6 postage. Then you post / take it to the Kuwait Embassy in London to be stamped: £15. So, you have spent between £76-146 before you've even left the UK!!! Then, oh, then, the fun starts.... As tica says above, once you have residency and your Civil ID, you have to have the Kuwait license. You can only use an international, or your UK license if you don't have residency.

    Then you find a guy to help you with all the paperwork and bureaucracy in Kuwait to do the rest, as Ministry buildings are only open a few hours a day, when us teachers are working, obviously. There is a Scottish guy called Andy who has set up a business here doing just that. A variety of Ministries have to stamp a variety of documents for you, including your degree. Yes, your degree. The law changed about 4 years ago stating that as there are so many cars in Kuwait, one way to reduce the traffic was to make it difficult for foreigners to get a license. Well, not in those exact words, obviously. Suffice to say, unless you are a teacher or an engineer, you have to have residency for 2 years before even applying now. Oh, and have a degree. The rest of the money I spent was on the guy I used to do all the running around to the ministries to get my documents stamped, pay him and the govt offices and the 'test'. The other bad news for new people coming now is that about 12 months ago they added another law: driving licenses have to be renewed EVERY YEAR. Unless you had one before March 2015 - mine lasts 10 years but I will be gone by then.

    As for taking the risk and driving without a local license.... some people have, and some have been stopped and deported. Yeap. Schools talk to each other and we were told that last year. There are a lot more police checks along the roads, however, being female and white-skinned, I have usually been waved on. Unfair, but true.....
  19. musikteech

    musikteech Occasional commenter

    If you get stopped using an international licence or a UK one, can't you just pretend you're a tourist and say you left your passport in your hotel? I hope you're earning a whack out there to recoup all your expenses. If it was me I would risk just driviing on an international licence but that's just me.
  20. ameaney1

    ameaney1 New commenter

    In kuwait that can lead to deportation

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