How many schools does Wael operate?

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A few years ago, Wael addressed the faculty in the ASK auditorium in order to dispel rumors that he was affiliated with what is now known as AUS (The American United School of Kuwait). At the time of its founding, it was initially called the American University School of Kuwait. This is because of its affiliation with the American University of Kuwait. The name was rejected because it is not a university, and so it was renamed The American United School of Kuwait (keeping similar initials). Here is a photograph showing the original signage.

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A digital mockup from the KIPCO newsletter. (Source)

2014-02-22 17.04.19

So we did some research. Wael is a founding member of the American University School of Kuwait:

“AUK is governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees. The Executive Committee is composed of the three AUK co-founders: Sheikha Dana Nasser Sabah Al-Sabah, Mr. Meshal Ali, and Mr. Wael Abdul-Ghafoor and is particularly active and interacts with the President on a regular basis. It is an impressive Board strongly dedicated to the mission of the institution and well positioned to advance the university’s objectives including the financing of a larger campus. Consistent with Kuwaiti law, which does not have U.S.- styled “nonprofit” corporations, AUK is operated by the United Education Company, a privately held concern owned by the co-founders.”

Source.

Wael’s name also comes up in WikiLeaks.

We said WikiLeaks. Here is the source.

This is from a meeting he attended with Shaykha Dana Nasser Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. She is also mentioned in the above quote as a founder of AUK.

“Classified By: Ambassador Richard LeBaron for reasons 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) President of the American University of Kuwait (AUK) Dr. Shafiq Al-Ghabra recently invited the Ambassador to meet the chair of the university’s board of trustees Shaykha Dana Nasser Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, granddaughter of the Prime Minister. Accompanying her at the June 13 meeting were Dr. Al-Ghabra and two other investors/board members/founders of AUK — Wael Abdul Ghafoor (well-known to the Embassy as head of the American School of Kuwait) and Mishaal Al-Ali (a businessman/major AUK investor). Shaykha Dana turned out to be a relaxed, informal interlocutor. She met the Ambassador in her office at the University, dressed informally in western-style slacks and blouse. Now in her mid-thirties, she said that she had spent a year as a student at the University of Indiana, a year she characterized as equivalent to or better than the three years she spent at Kuwait University. She was dismissive of the quality of education provided currently at Kuwait University and clearly delighted to be leading a private effort to supply a U.S.-style liberal arts education. She and her associates commented on the difference in student behavior at AUK when compared to public institutions. For example, students are much more likely to stay around the campus and socialize after hours. They are more open to discussion, and gender barriers are greatly reduced. During the discussion with the Ambassador, Shaykha Dana and her partners talked about plans for a military academy (for troubled students) that they were considering placing on Failaka Island and indicated an interest in pursuing private options for a special needs school. Dr. Al-Ghabra told the Ambassador later that Shaykha Dana does not get involved in the day-to-day operations of AUK. He meets with her for about an hour a week and briefs her on major financial issues. She also takes an interest in building projects and campus expansion plans.”

We know that both AUK and AUS are owned by the United Education Company (UEC). We can find proof of this in the following photographs (Source 1 | Source 2):

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Given that ASK has transitioned from referring to Wael Abdul Ghafoor as the “owner” to “Chairman and CEO,” we wonder if ASK is owned by United Education Company, as well?

Well, it turns out that Wael is a board member of Al Rayan Holding Company. Al Rayan Holding Company owns the following schools in Kuwait (Source):

  1. International British School
  2. Kuwait International English School
  3. New Pakistan International School
  4. Fahaheel Al Watanieh Indian Private School

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 21.22.38.png

Al Rayan Holding Company is 82% owned by, United Education Company. So Wael Abdul Ghafoor is on the Board of Trustees of a company that owns 4 competitors to school. That company, is in turn, owned by another school that owns a direct competitor – the American United School of Kuwait.

This is important. This shows that Wael is actively invested in direct competitors with ASK. This is a gigantic conflict of interest, and it leads to a lot of speculation about the current state of affairs at the school. We have previously encouraged transparency from the school. We would like to reiterate this encouragement – transparency is the key to increased morale and the improvement of outcomes at the American School of Kuwait.

16 thoughts on “How many schools does Wael operate?

  1. I wonder if Wael will be too busy cruising on his yacht to come back to the auditorium and lie to us again. He certainly didn’t bother to even give us the traditional end of year luncheon this year. Sounds like he is getting as far away as he can from the school.

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    • No end-of-year luncheon?! Those buffets were the only leg Of his presence. Let’s hope this is a sign of a (good)heart change in Wael.

      If ASK is sinking, Wael is sinking. The teachers and leadership at ASK at large are great people with huge hearts— idealists who leave home to educate.

      Despite ASK apaent inability to upgrade crumbling facilities and ticking last chapter, Wael and board don’t have to let the school fold in their shame. The end of ASK ought to be rich, supportive, and celebratory. It would be what his father wanted.

      Life support needs to be pulled, coeffers closed. ASK needs to stop moving families and children around the world, offering false hopes and a hellish two year appointment.

      The American School’s legacy was created by American teachers. Wael Abdul Ghafoor destroyed the legacy and needs to take responsibility to finish it.

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    • WHAT? Wael used to host awesome parties for year-end at his villa with the swim up pool and refreshments galore! Luncheon was more of a teacher potluck shared via departments in the old days…

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  2. It’s not a conflict of interest, it’s smart business. There is an effort to consolidate education in Kuwait, only a fool would sit on the sidelines. I imagine the ASK campus will be abandoned in the near future and turned into something else since the new school is accredited and has nice new facilities. Kuwait generally replaces facilities instead of maintaining them.

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    • We’ve only had 84 comments, so we can’t say that we have had that many comments that are dissenting. Of the comments that disagree with our opinion, all are published (though some are moved to the deleted comments page). We certainly have not accused “everyone” or even a majority of people that expressed disagreement of being ownership or administration. That claim is demonstrably false.

      As for your statement that “The vast majority of us are staying with ASK.”

      Our previous article on teacher retention shows this to not be true as well. While the phrase “vast majority” is not precise, we know that ASK is retaining 62% of its teachers next year. Of the teachers that are staying, many are in the middle of a multi-year contract and are, therefore, contractually forbidden from leaving this summer. Though there are several teachers that have resigned in spite of this fact, as well. You just can’t claim that 62% is a “vast” majority. After more people quit or are fired this year and summer runners are accounted for, it is plausible that ASK won’t even retain a majority of its teachers at all.

      We hope that when people read our articles and disagree with us, that they won’t experience defensive feelings. We are open to discussion, but we also will take the time to debate you on a factual basis. Our intention is to point out the ways in which ASK needs to improve. Our goal is for ASK to be a great school so that all of its faculty and students can find fulfillment from their time at the school.

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  3. Subjective. At least we kept you off the streets for a little bit while writing that. Showdown at the pool, 4pm today 🙂

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  4. 1- owning multiple legal and registered businesses is not defined as conflict of interest. A simple and hypothetical example: if a pizza shop owner sells pizzas to the public, would it be a conflict of interest if he also owns another separate vegan restaurant that also serves a vegan form of their own pizza? Not really.

    2-the terrible campus subject.
    First off, ASK does not own its campus. Like 99% of private schools in Kuwait, the property is rented out by the government. So the original large buildings are rented out and are actually not really allowed to be renovated or invest in building structures with out government approval. Now yes ASK does every now and then build and fix up here and there, but they can not do major action with out taking a very complicated, consistently denied, and brutal process of government approvals.
    Other schools that rent, are usually provided with smaller properties that don’t have standing structures. Therefore they have the option of building a mediocre but effective nice (on the outside)campus. Any properly educated individual would know, it is extremely cheaper to build a structure from scratch then renovate an old one.

    3-I don’t believe ASK forced any employee to work at its institute. Like any other organization, employees have a choice to take a job or not. It’s that simple. I wonder how many schools in the U.S provide free housing, transportation, and a round trip plane ticket once a year?
    I was and still am thankful for any finances the ASK covered the time i was an employee there. I knew what my contract stated and didn’t ask for additional things after I agreed to sign it. It’s really that simple.

    4-Mrs. Wael Abdulghafoor did not lie about ownership of other schools or any other businesses he’s involved in. Again why would he publicly tell his employees what he has or doesn’t have (that would be weird). I don’t see how it would be concerning if owns companies that buys, Sells, or restructures schools and turns profits around for the company/companies revenue. Technically in the sources provided on this page, says he owns shares along side several other individuals, and conducts businesses that are legal and in no way unethical. If anything, being a part of a company that buy out failing schools and remodels them with a better curriculum and facilities, kind of sound like the opposite of unethical… also not all information of what those companies actually own or do not own is on the internet. FYI.

    5- Speaking publicly about Wael abdul ghafoor’s private life is not only inappropriate, but petty and unprofessional. My opinion and personal advise would be to take a more authentic and professional approach on professional problems. If i find my self facing a problem In whichever organization i currently work at; I would address it by directly asking my superiors. If the answer I receive isn’t to my liking, I can alway ask again why that is and try and grasp as much CORRECT information regarding the issue, and avoid feeding my self questionable intel provided by the internet. And if ever I found that my issues were too large to continue being of value to them; i would quit. Again simple

    Moreover, I my self was employed at ASK and like all of you, faced problems. Which is normal in any working environment.
    And yes i disagreed with my superiors a couple of times but professionally explained why i disagreed in a calm Manar, then moved on with my job in positive and respectful way. Some times my concerns were heard and action was taken, and some times it wasn’t, but I always took it upon myself to understand my superiors reasons. I loved the children i was responsible for and only cared for their wellbeing. At the end, I was there to do my job and a “end of year lunch or party” was the last thing i would care about or expect.

    As Educators, I would expect a more resourceful approach in dealing with your professional problems then trying to fix Them by using an anonymous online chat. I hope you all try your best the same way I did, and really give 100% of yourself to those kids that need you as their role models of education. Speak freely about any and all concerns, but make sure you do it correctly.

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