Educational Reform in Qatar
I just stumbled across an interesting report from the RAND Corporation titled "Education for a New Era : Design and Implementation of K–12 Education Reform in Qatar". Lots of people on this site have often complained about the long waiting lists to get their kids into school in Qatar. This report, commissioned by the Qatar Foundation takes a step back and looks at the big picture around Education in Qatar. It is an interesting read if you are interested in educational reform in the Middle East, the socio-economic development of Qatar or a teacher based in Qatar.
From the report :
...At that time, the Qatari K–12 education system served about 100,000 students, two-thirds of whom attended schools that were government financed and operated. The RAND team found several strengths in this existing system. Many teachers were enthusiastic and wanted to deliver a solid education; some of them exhibited a real desire for change and greater autonomy. Additionally, parents appeared likely to accept new schooling options.
But the weaknesses in the existing system were extensive. There was no vision of quality education and the structures needed to support it. The curriculum in the government (and many private) schools
was outmoded, under the rigid control of the Ministry of Education,
and unchallenging, and it emphasized rote memorization. The system
lacked performance indicators, and the scant performance information
that it provided to teachers and administrators meant little to them
because they had no authority to make changes in the schools. For a
country with such a high per capita income, the national investment in education was small. Teachers received low pay and little professional development, many school buildings were in poor condition, and classrooms were overcrowded.
I know many teachers here have complained to me about three things : Low salaries, lack of discipline and short-term contracts. The report discusses this in detail:
Teacher salaries in Qatar were comparatively low. Most male teach-
ers were expatriates, and while their average salaries were higher than those of teachers in Saudi Arabia, they were 20 percent lower than those of teachers in other GCC countries. These low wages raised questions about quality. Even if expatriate teachers were of higher quality than their salaries might indicate, they were working on a contracted basis that led to perverse incentives. Their contracts were renewed on an annual basis, fostering a continuous state of apprehension among them. And although most contracts were renewed, many expatriate teachers reported that they refrained from disciplining Qatari students for fear of offending a family with influence over hiring decisions. To supplement their low salaries, these teachers offered private tutoring outside of school, despite prohibitions against it.
Here is a summary of the recommdenations of the report:
- Continue to build human capacity through knowledge transfer
and investment. Qatar needs more local capacity to manage the
reform. Increased expertise is needed in the teaching workforce
and among the Institute staff. Non-Qatari specialists are likely
to be required in the future, but it is important that they find
the means to transfer knowledge to Qataris to build local human
resources and that the Qataris continue to invest in their human
resources devoted to education.
- Continue to promote the principles of the reform.The four principles of the reform—autonomy, accountability, variety, and choice are new in this region. As a result, the SEC, Institutes, and schools should continue to promote and develop these principles in their organizational structures, personnel policies, and activities. It is particularly important that the principles of decentralized autonomy and accountability for results be reinforced.
- Expand the supply of high-quality schools. The success of the reform’s system-changing design rests partly on the establishment of high-quality Independent schools. Qatar should seek to attract the best school operators without regard to nationality. In addition, the reform should support school operators as they develop and expand their visions of quality education.
- Integrate education policy with broader social policies.The education reform resides within a broader social, political, and economic system, which includes social welfare policies and a civil service system that rewards people in government positions. These social systems and government policies must be aligned with the modernization objectives of the Qatari leadership if the country is to achieve its vision. The education reform is limited in what it can accomplish without reinforcement across these sectors of society.
Questions and Answers
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- Qatar Schools Database
- Residents Guide to Qatar
- Siteseeing in Qatar
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- Attending a Qatari Wedding
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- Buying a used car in Qatar
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