Clyde & Co’s Qatar office regularly takes part in webinars arranged and hosted by the UK Trade & Investment office based in Qatar; one such recent webinar focussed on Qatar’s education sector. The development Qatar’s workforce, which is estimated to be increasing by 10% per annum, is reflected in the high demand for school places. Some of the webinar content is considered below.
The Qatar economy had the world’s highest gross domestic product per capita in 2013, being USD 109,000, and this is expected to rise in 2014. Qatar, a country with a land mass of half the size of Wales, United Kingdom, is headed by HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Qatar’s main source of wealth is oil and gas, but it is currently seeking to diversify its economy. The Qatar National Vision 2030 sets out the country’s strategy and development priorities. A high level of importance is placed on education with the Prime Minister being appointed in 2013 to oversee education. Qatar’s budget for the fiscal year 2014/15 is estimated to be USD 60 billion with USD 7.3 billion having been allocated to education. The successful bids for both the athletics championships in 2020 and the World Cup in 2022 has aided the pace of development.
The Supreme Education Council (SEC), established in 2002, oversees education policy, specifically including setting school fees. PriceWaterhousecoopers were retained by the SEC in 2013 to advise specifically on fees. The SEC is further sub-divided into the Institutes of Education, Evaluation and Higher Education. The priorities for the SEC remain PISA scores, literacy and numeracy, a focus on the quality of learning and teaching, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, English and Arabic languages, health living and Special Education Needs. The priorities for higher education in particular includes attracting international facilities and students, increasing the number of Qatari nationals and the development of Masters and PhD programmes. In addition Qatar Foundation has an interest in the development of education in Qatar. Qatar Foundation’s flagship project is Education City, an eight mile cluster of learning and research hosting the Qatari branches of many international universities, eg. Georgetown, UCL, and two local Qatari universities, (HBKU and Islamic Studies). More than 4,000 Qatari and international students attend the educational facilities in Education City. The third entity with an interest in the development of education in Qatar is Qatar University, the only public university in Qatar. The university is made up of seven colleges, some 14,000 students and has recently moved from English to Arabic as the official teaching language.
Qatar has three types of schools, independent (Qatari curriculum), international and Embassy sponsored. In the 2014/15 academic year 243,000 students attended Qatar schools, an increase of 25% on the previous academic year. 13 new school, six new pre-schools and one new international school came on line and 22 new school licenses were issued. This figure includes 178 independent schools wtih 105,636 students, an increase of 7.4% on the previous academic year. The remainder were private and international schools.
Challenges to the Qatar education sector, and those wishing to invest in it, include obtaining an understanding of the market place, high regulation, a shortage of teachers, accreditation, licensing, the availability and cost of land, construction and operating against school fees. Opportunities include growing demand, the development of both State and private schools, vocational training, qualifications and accreditation, teacher training, special needs education and consultancy services.