Middle East is economically one of the most prosperous regions in the world, thanks to vast oil reserves. An average citizen leads quite a comfortable life due to generous government economic and social policies. But economic prosperity doesn’t always translate to high education levels if my country (Kuwait) or Saudi Arab is any indication. It is my good fortune to have come from a family that always understood the importance of education as well as living in a country that takes good care of its citizens but not everyone is blessed with the same good luck. Life has been good to me which is why I am inspired to make this world a better place for everyone and I cannot think of a more powerful solution than education.
I read on a wide range of subject matters and also regularly follow news. Over the years, I have come up with two major reasons as to why I should pursue a career in education. First of all, I am worried Kuwait and other oil rich countries in the Middle East have a bleak future unless they develop human capital by allocating huge financial and human capital to education. Secondly, my personal and professional experiences in Kuwait and Saudi Arab have convinced me that the weak state of education is not only due to insufficient attention by the government but also outdated social perceptions as well as attitudes towards early childhood education.
The general attitude towards education in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as the rest of the Middle East is that it’s the job of academic institutions to identify and meet students’ learning needs. The Middle Eastern society believes that the only job of the parents is to support the financial aspects of educating their children. Certain other stereotypes also prevent the education system in the Middle East from helping students realize their true potential. There is still a widespread belief that one’s future is primarily determined at college level, thus, one can get by with paying little attention to childhood education and high school. Similarly, it is widely assumed that all students have similar capabilities and learning styles, thus, struggles of students in childhood education are mainly attributed to them not working hard or paying attention. As a result, many students fail to discover and realize their true potential because Middle Eastern education system provides them with a weak foundation during early school years. I don’t see these attitudes only in Kuwait but almost every country in the Middle East and making the matters worse is the fact that the Ministry of Education in these respective countries devote inadequate resources to training teachers and encouraging them to invest in continuous education. Not surprisingly, the education system in Middle East is extremely outdated and ill-equipped to prepare students for the realities of the modern world.
Nations do not improve until change comes from within which is why I am determined to use my academic, research, and work experiences in the U.S. to help modernize early education system in the Middle East and particularly my home country Kuwait. I am also excited at the opportunity to meet with fellow students who come from diverse backgrounds and will help me significantly expand my perspectives. I also plan to network with the education industry leaders in the western world and seek their expertise as to how education system in the Middle East can be revamped to accommodate the unique needs of students who hold tremendous potential but their talent is wasted due to lack of help.
My studies will be sponsored by the generosity of the education ministry in Kuwait and it is only right for me to return to Kuwait and help it enter the 21st century with dignity. Globalization has only increased the importance of human capital and I have no doubt that Kuwait’s best days are still ahead if only the country gives due attention to early childhood education system. Kuwait has small population and ample resources which puts it in a uniquely advantageous position and it is up to nationals like me to stand up to the challenge.