Amira Hachem, Eduserve International
Last updated February 2016
Throughout 2015, Qatar’s education sector witnessed rapid transformations, with at least 8-12 new schools opening to accommodate a student population of 1,500 to 2,000 per school. This scenario will repeat each year through 2022, presenting opportunities that have increasingly attracted school developers and operators.
Two main national institutions that have played significant roles this year in fostering and advancing educational initiatives are Qatar University (the country’s first national institution of higher education) and Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF).
Qatar University has been focusing its efforts on introducing a range of new disciplines, raising academic standards, and fostering a culture of research. These improvement and reform initiatives are grounded in principles that promote Qatar’s Vision 2030. On the other hand, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, in addition to housing a number of international colleges and universities in Education City, has made substantial investments in developing educational facilities that promote cutting-edge research and development endeavors.
Moreover, it is important to point out this year’s exceptional World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), an annual educational endeavor by QF. QF’s Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, was joined at this year’s WISE by the U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama. Her Highness opened the Summit on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, and addressed the regional and global threats to education while Mrs. Obama spoke about girls’ education globally and introduced her Let Girls Learn initiative.
One of QF’s exciting projects that is under development is the Qatar National Library (QNL), which will span 46,000sqm and offer state-of-the-art technologies, learning spaces, performance venues, numerous multilingual collections, and cafes. QF President Dr. Saad Al Muhannadi noted, “The main aim of QNL is to create an environment conducive to learning and knowledge-sharing. Also, the facility will serve as the metropolitan public library for the city of Doha.”
Despite all these successful endeavors within the education sector, the pace of growth has created a series of challenges. Primarily, the sudden population growth rate has been a key factor in the growing demand for more schools in Qatar. The fact that expatriates make up a large proportion of Qatar’s has translated into a preference for international school curricula, typically American or British, due to their transferable nature in case families transition back to their country of origin.
Towards that end, the vast increase in the number of new schools opening has led to a recruiting shortage for locally skilled teachers and administrators in Qatar’s public and private facilities. Similarly, Qatar’s major challenge in attracting and retaining quality teachers is also faced by other countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). To address these vulnerable difficulties with school staffing, further research and investigations are needed to highlight the teacher gap/shortage in the Arab world.
Realizing the need for a paradigm shift to address this staffing challenge, Qatar introduced Teach for Qatar (TFQ), a program that aims to bolster the country’s public independent schools by having academically distinguished graduates serve as teachers. However, to take a real leap forward, I believe that the paradigm will only be driven by developing an integral improvement plan that includes transformative shifts translated into specific priorities/practices rather than isolated actions.
Qatar National Library Brochure: http://www.qnl.qa/app/media/549
2015 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE): https://www.wise-qatar.org/2015-summit-education-invest-impact