We’re back – What did we miss?

ASKR is back from a 15 month sabbatical to ask you one question: What is going on?

We know that the pandemic has hit Kuwait particularly hard. This is not unexpected simply due to the way that Kuwait is structured: Kuwait consists of approximately 1 million Kuwaitis and 3 million foreign expats. Kuwaitis tend to live in a more spread out suburban environment, but many expats live in more densely populated areas that make transmission of a virus like Covid-19 easier.

We know that, whatever the cause, private education has been hit extremely hard in Kuwait. We know that the government has mandated tuition cuts between 20% and 30% (we have heard varying numbers). Enrollment is down.

We are not back to criticize. We hope to offer our forum as a bit of support. Tell us how you are doing. Are you in your home country, or are you riding out the storm still in Kuwait? Will you be remaining in international education this year, returning home temporarily, or perhaps even leaving international education altogether?

Whether you are at ASK now or have moved on to other schools (we want to hear from everybody – no need to name the school you are at) – has your school taken care of you? What kinds of things have your administration done to provide support, levity, or even some socially-distanced socialisation?

Comment below and tell us how you’re doing. We’ll be posting on a regular basis in the coming weeks with news articles and information about how schools around the world are handling the pandemic. Let’s all try to support one another with positivity and the presumption of positive intentions during this difficult time.

5 Comments

  1. I left ASK a few years ago. I’ve been at my current school for awhile now. Most of our new teachers haven’t been able to get in the country. We’ve paid them their first paychecks just this week and they are currently working virtually. While our enrollment dropped by over 25% and we should have eliminated about 10 position to run a balanced budget, we kept everybody onboard.

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  2. What a sneaky way to bash the school without doing it directly. ASK is doing all they can to save as many jobs as possible. They’re offering as many people as they can new roles so they can stay. Yes, many need to do something unfamiliar and/or take a pay cut, but ASK is working hard to help all of the teachers, and then you’re trying to provide a place for ungrateful teachers who didn’t take the offer to come and whine about it on the internet. If the school offered to keep you employed and you chose not to take it, you don’t get to then come on the internet and throw the school under the bus.

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    1. I’m sure those who were let go unexpectedly via Zoom Meetings with one week before the start of the school year will take comfort in the fact that the school did “all they can.” You try looking for a teaching job in late August while all your possessions are thousands of miles away and see if you still have any empathy for the admin who have made no personal sacrifices.

      How ungrateful of ASK to value its teachers so poorly.

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  3. This is such a disappointing website, which I came across by accident. I have been so impressed with teachers and with administrators at ASK overall. I got to be involved with the accreditation process, and the level of transparency and engagement was commendable. Other than the group of around 30 plus people across stakeholder groups engaged over more than a year, most parents didn’t even bother to take our surveys and teachers outside of the work groups had to be chased to get input–but the administration was open and willing and asked and asked for input. If your mission is to ” promotes positive engagement and foster trust between the school and its stakeholders through institutional transparency” the stakeholders have to dedicate some time and effort to their participation in the instruments that support transparency and communication between stakeholders and the administration , beyond this type of website. You have to show up. And as far as I have seen over the past 14 years at all levels of schooling in Kuwait, only a small core group of parents show up and often, the majority of the innovative and pioneering educational work lands on the shoulders of a core group of teachers.

    I am hoping that none of the former teachers or current teachers who I esteem are a part of this, because it is disingenuous to say that you are actually working towards change through what is basically a site in which there resides no accountability for your words. This is not a forum for engaged critical dialogue or genuine advocacy about challenges facing the school. Even students in the school who take issue about quality of teaching staff, or who have issues with administrative errors and decisions are brave enough to go directly to the teachers and administrators with not only complaints, but viable pragmatic solutions. I am particularly disturbed by the undercurrent of sniping about Mr. Murphy, and perhaps other administrators ( Ms. Livsey?). I have seen them at work on the school and they are both thoughtful, open to critiques, responsive and able to modify their viewpoints. They care deeply about the teaching staff and about the school. Also, each of us grows in our work, we are not static. None of us is equipped all the time to deal with the things that are thrown at us but I think people are working with very good intentions and commitment to the school’s betterment. In Kuwaiti schools, administrators and teachers are always having to navigate the peculiar local context, which is not easy on every front, balancing the demands of the business owner, the ministry, the parents and international bodies.

    One of the things that has come across to me in my work talking to administrators from across different schools in Kuwait is that all of them were thrown into a situation where they didn’t know what decisions they were going to be forced to make relative to staffing. It kept changing, there were lots of negotiations going on at many different levels to try to push back and save people’s jobs. I will not defend the owner because I do not know what his perspective or actions were on this, or what options he had that could have saved jobs, but I do not think this was easy to navigate for the administrators who were the ones forced to make cuts. I heard it was brutal, both for those who got offers they didn’t want and felt compelled to leave, and for those who were cut and for those having to announce the cuts. I do not think it was meant to be brutal, but I think that schools waited as late as they possibly could to make cuts, in hopes that they would be given better options. Why don’t you ask the administrators what it was like for them to have to implement policies which affected people who they cared about? Maybe it was done easily and carelessly (doubtful) but I think that those conversations might illuminate the complexity of the situation, and also open up the opportunity for learning and for discussing a better way forward.

    Anyway, if you want to make a difference, I suggest people on the forum behave like adults and sign their names to what they write and take accountability in the interest of the transparency you seek. If you are not ” safe” in your job to do so, then why don’t you collectively submit a proposal to ASK asking them to assign an ombudsman, perhaps a teacher that is trusted by everyone, so you can at least have a mediated dialogue concerning issues or employee rights infringements, etc, when they arise? An ombudsman could track complaints and start to populate a database so that you would have more power through unified communication, using accurate information over innuendo, and a platform from which to negotiate or work with the school to change the system where it needs improvement. I would like to believe this website began as a well-intentioned endeavor but this present format is not productive. Good luck in moving this forward in a more constructive manner.

    Eleanor Burton

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