As a result of the spread of the swine flu virus in Kuwait and fears that its spread will be increased during the school year, a joint decision by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education maintained that nursery schools will postpone their start dates until the end of November. Ministry spokesmen maintained that the decision was a precautionary measure aimed at preventing the spread of the swine flu virus among young students.
Most parents, however, are against the recent decision. “I think this decision is useless. I don’t believe that any government can stop the virus or can ensure the public that the virus will be killed by November or December. So, what is the point of delaying the school year? This decision creates a huge problem for us. Now, my wife and I have to rearrange our schedule and take a leave from our work to stay with our son,” said Peter, a 35-year-old father in a statement to the Kuwait Times.
Some parents, however, support the decision. “I agree with this regulation because I think that it’s for the good of our children. I don’t view the educational program of nurseries as so important that they can’t be delayed or even canceled for a year. The children will receive their basic knowledge in kindergarten, anyway. I thought about registering my daughter in nursery school this year, but I may wait for next year to register her in kindergarten,” said Sabah, a 38-year-old father.
The decision has more supporters among unemployed parents. “I’m with postponing the beginning of the school year for young children under five because they are young and their immunities are weak. Furthermore, this is flu season, so it’s not a big deal and they won’t miss anything important. Besides, they can easily catch the virus. I am, however, against delaying the school year for older students. All of my children are older and they already started the school year,” said Um Hamad, a 42-year-old mother
of four children.
One of Kuwait’s Arabic newspapers reported earlier that the Union of Private Nurseries held a protest against the suspension of the school year for nurseries until November 29, 2009.
Head of the Union for Private Nurseries, Dr. Mohammad Al-Refaei, said that they are planning to hold an official strike in front of the Cabinet building in protest against the decision of closing nursery schools across the country until November 29th in order to end the struggle of nursery school owners, parents and working parents as a result of the delay.
Al-Refaei further expressed his disappointment in the decision to suspend an important aspect of society that is private nursery school education, adding that the decision caused several negative consequences.
Furthermore, Al-Refaei said that they do not intend to talk about the damages that occurred as a result of the delay or any possible requests for compensations, adding that they will preserve the rights of those who were affected. He added that the aim of their strike is to push a sense of long-term vision to the decision makers in that regard because the decision has caused several negative consequences such as depriving children of being taken care of at nursery schools during their parents’ work hours,
in addition to the financial losses that the owners of these schools will suffer from.
Al-Refaei further assured that they will respect the Cabinet’s decision, but that will not stop them from demanding their rights. This decision also negatively affects teachers working at these nurseries. Teachers who make a living in their nursery jobs will not receive salaries until December, which makes the situation very hard for them. The owners of private nurseries will also suffer great looses.