GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education on March 22 began considering over a thousand applications from Palestinian teachers seeking to work in Kuwait. According to Muhannad Abu Shama, the ministry’s director of staff affairs, 1,173 Palestinians working in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) affiliated areas submitted applications.
Palestinian Ambassador to Kuwait Rami Tahboub had announced in October 2016 at a press conference that the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education was willing to hire Palestinian teachers to help enhance education quality in the 2017-2018 school year, given the educational qualifications of Palestinian teachers who contributed to the building of Kuwait at the beginning of its rise.
Tahboub told Al-Monitor, “The letter from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education was sent to the Palestinian Embassy in Kuwait, and I made sure to send it to the Palestinian minister of education and higher education, Sabri Saidam, who took it from there. The Palestinian Embassy in Kuwait will provide hired Palestinian teachers in Kuwait all logistic and legal protection, among other privileges.”
Abu Shima told Al-Monitor, “The ministry stopped accepting applications for the positions of teachers in Kuwait, after having received about 1,173 applications by teachers working in the PA-controlled areas — the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. We are currently working on selecting 180 candidates who have met the conditions provided by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education in a letter sent to Minister Saidam.”
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Education sent an official memo to the Palestinian ambassador to Kuwait, expressing its desire to bring in Palestinian teachers to start teaching at schools beginning April 3, 2017, since Kuwait wishes to enhance the government schools sector, as announced by the Ministry of Education.
“Among the conditions, applicants must have graduated from accredited universities in Palestine and have no less than two years of experience with excellent recommendation and educational qualifications. The applicants must not be more than 45 years old, and no more than 50 years old for teachers who had previously worked in Kuwaiti schools,” Abu Shima added.
He said, “The Kuwait Ministry of Education wishes to hire scientific subject teachers only," according to the following numbers: "Eighty-five is the total number of male teachers of math, chemistry, physics and biology: 15 male teachers of physics; 40 male math teachers; 15 biology male teachers; the rest male chemistry teachers. Separately, they need 10 male teachers of geology. Ninety is the total number of female teachers of math and physics: 25 female physics teachers; 65 female math teachers."
“We received on the ministry’s official website 462 applications from the West Bank and 711 from the Gaza Strip. We are currently examining the applications to select successful candidates who will meet the Kuwaiti delegation that will visit the ministry in the West Bank in mid-April. After the interviews, successful candidates will undergo training sessions [with the Kuwaiti delegation, which specializes in modern education] in line with the standards applicable to Kuwaiti schools.”
Aymen al-Yazouri, deputy undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Gaza, welcomed Kuwait’s initiative to hire Palestinian teachers, saying that it confirms their good educational skills and expertise. Yazouri noted that Palestinian teacher Hanan al-Hroub, winner of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize, is an example of the success of Palestinian teachers.
Yazouri said that Kuwait’s job openings are beacons of hope to thousands of unemployed education graduates in Gaza and the West Bank.
Lina Shahada, a math teacher from the Gaza Strip, applied for the position through the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
“I have five years of experience in teaching math and I hold a master’s degree in education. I am not married, which I believe would enhance my chances. I cannot wait for the names of the successful candidates to be published on the ministry’s website,” Shahada told Al-Monitor. Results are expected to be out in mid-April.
She added, “I expect to earn a monthly salary of $1,500. I won’t be spending much in Kuwait. My family needs my financial support, so if I got accepted — God willing — I will be sending money to my parents who live now in a rented house after our home in Jabaliya camp was destroyed in the last war on Gaza in 2014."
Qassem Barakat, a chemistry teacher from Ramallah, has 10 years of experience and wishes to go back to Kuwait where he was born so that his children can lead a good life as he did during his own childhood.
“My father used to work as an engineer for a company in Kuwait. I was born there in the Jahra governorate. After saving enough money to build his own house, he brought us back to Ramallah. I believe I have better chances than the other applicants, as I meet most of the conditions. I expect the salary not to be less than $1,000 a month, not to mention other benefits such as accommodation and transportation fees,” he told Al-Monitor.
Mohammed Samaan, head of the public relations department at the Palestinian Ministry of Labor, confirmed to Al-Monitor that the number of unemployed graduates has reached 337,000. He noted that as per the Palestinian job offers, the basic monthly salaries of teachers stand at $480 and could reach $500 to $600 with the transportation allowance.
Samaan said there are often recruiting requests for Palestinian teachers, namely by the Gulf countries, adding that 102 teachers left for Qatar in July 2015.
“Education jobs are limited in the PA-controlled areas due to the increasing number of graduates; therefore, the PA welcomes calls for recruiting teachers holding Palestinian passports,” he added.
International jobs are much sought after by thousands of unemployed Palestinians. Around 180 Palestinian teachers will start a new life in Kuwait, as they await the approval of their applications by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education.