Law regulating private schools
In November 2015, HH The Emir of Qatar approved Law No 23 of 2015, the New Private Schools Law which regulates all privately run schools in the State; the New Private Schools Law aims to update the previous legislation which dates back 35 years. Some of the key points from the New Private Schools Law are:
– Schools cannot operate without a licence or make any changes to their existing licence without the pre-approval of the Education Regulator.
– All schools have one year to comply with the changes introduced by the legislation; the Minister may extend this period by one year.
– Any materials, tools and/or curriculum that does not meet the standards of the Education Regulator may be withdrawn or ordered to be changed.
– Schools are prohibited from receiving funding or donations without approval from the Education Regulator and face fines for violation of this rule.
Educational service law
The Education Service Law governs any individual or entity which provides education services and/or training in the fields of languages, computing, secretarial, accounting and/or business administration; such services and/or training to be provided in centres. The law will come into effect when it is published in the Gazette.
– Educational centres cannot advertise/announce that they are opening or accept any students until a licence is approved.
– Educational centres should have separate premises in which they operate; the licence will be issued for those premises.
– Penalties for violation of the above laws include imprisonment of up to six months and/or a penalty of QAR100,000 and/or cancellation of the licence.
– Traffic safety will be made part of the curriculum of all independent and private schools in Qatar by the next academic year. The project was first launched in four schools on a trial basis during the 2013–14 academic year and currently 25 schools including some private schools are giving traffic safety awareness lessons. The Curriculum Standards Office has a team of specialists to follow up on implementation of the project. Traffic safety will not be taught as an independent subject but it will be incorporated in the curriculum as part of other subjects and through contextual learning. The project targets all schools – independent, private and international – from KG to Grade 12 levels to raise traffic safety awareness among children, both as pedestrians and future drivers.
HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs, Dr Issa Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi unveiled a plan to provide scholarships to 21,386 Qatari students and government employees. He pointed out that under the plan, the government will sponsor students and employees in government bodies both at universities within the state and abroad in various disciplines including medicine, engineering, computer science, financial management, economy, tourism, media and public relations, communications and aviation.
The new guidelines that the Ministry of Education and Higher Education has issued for registration of students in private schools provide flexibility and more convenience for parents and educational institutions apart from bringing uniformity to the process. The new rules also make it clear that schools will have to announce the number of vacancies for each academic year in advance and admit the students within the period of time specified by the Ministry.
All private schools must make use of the student database system to add, transfer or delete registered names and certifications. Expatriate students in the country can now be enrolled directly in private schools without the need for a equivalency certificate. Parents can hereafter transfer their children between private schools without the Ministry’s permission if there are vacancies at the appropriate level in the receiving school. The move to allow parents to place a child at a class with older or younger children will help them substantially.
Another regulation is that private schools which provide modified and alternative study methods to address the learning needs of students such as vocational courses and special needs programmes should seek the Ministry’s approval if this is different from the agreed education plan for the school.
The pupil-teacher ratio in Qatar at all levels of school educaton is impressive compared to world standards. In 2014–15 there was one teacher for every 15 students, while the average for girls’ schools was 7.81 and eight for boys’ schools. The maximum number of teachers and students were in primary schools – 10,478 teachers and 116,721 students.