After years of pressure from students and faculty members, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Higher Education has agreed to cancel the nationality clause in university certificates, including those of stateless students.
This month’s decision should make it easier for those known as “Bedoon,” who reside in Kuwait but do not have Kuwaiti or any other nation’s citizenship, to complete their academic study and also improve their job prospects.
Certificates issued to Bedoon students implied that they were either illegal residents or had fake or other nationalities, and were “neither academic nor ethical,” Abdul-Rahman Al-Hamli, president of the Kuwait University Students’ Union, said in a phone call.
Bedoon means “without” in Arabic and is used idiomatically for “without nationality.” More than 100,000 long-term residents of Kuwait fall into this category, most of them descendants of nomadic Bedouins. The government, however, says they are foreigners who got rid of their identity papers to take advantage of the privileges of Kuwaiti citizens. They are often accused of political disloyalty and described as subversive. (See a related article, “Kuwait’s Stateless Residents Struggle For Education.”)
After completing their high school studies, Kuwait’s stateless students face a dilemma. The agency responsible for the Bedoon community requires them to sign documents showing they belong to other countries. If they do so, they have no hope of obtaining Kuwaiti nationality. As foreigners, they must pay high university fees.