Further to our article in the fourth edition of Education in focus, we remind our readers that the deadline for compliance with Law No. (23) of 2015 the New Private Schools Law (the New Private Schools Law) is approaching.
When the New Private Schools Law was approved in November 2015, the Minister granted a 12 month grace period for schools to comply with the provisions of the law. This grace period will expire in November 2016, unless it is extended by the Minister. We also remind our readers of the key provisions of Law No. (18) of 2015 the Educational Services Law (the Educational Services Law).
The New Private Schools Law
The New Private Schools Law regulates all privately run schools in the State.
We note some of the key points of the New Private Schools Law below:
• There are 36 Articles of the New Private Schools Law, divided into 7 Chapters as follows: Definitions and General Provisions, Licencing and Approval Procedures, Conditions for Ownership and Management, Buildings and Facilities Requirements, School and Study System, Investigations and Discipline and General Closing Provisions.
• The New Private Schools Law has introduced a series of penalties for private schools found to be operating without the proper licences and approvals from the Education Regulator, including imprisonment and/or fines up to QAR 100,000.
• Schools cannot operate without a licence or make any changes to their existing licence without the pre-approval of the Education Regulator.
• Any materials, tools and/or curriculum that does not meet the standards of the Education Regulator may be withdrawn or ordered to be changed.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.
• In parallel with the coming into force of the New Private Schools Law, the director of the Private Schools Office in the Education Regulator has appointed a private financial company to review requests for school fee increases; all fee increases will now need to be initially reviewed by this company before being considered by the Private Schools Office and the Education Regulator.
The Educational Services Law
The Educational Services 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 in a centre.
The Educational Services Law came into effect following its publication in the Official Gazette in November 2015. Existing educational centres were granted a six month grace period to comply with the Educational Services Law. We note some key points of the Educational Services Law below:
• Educational centres must now have a specific licence to operate.
• Educational centres cannot advertise/announce that they are opening or accept any students until their licence application has been approved.
• Applications for a licence will be determined by the Competent Authority within 60 days, if an applicant is unsuccessful they may appeal to the Minister within 30 days of the decision. The Minister will determine appeals within 30 days.
• Educational centres should have separate premises in which they operate; the licence will be issued for that premises.
• Licences cannot be assigned to third parties unless a prior approval from the Competent Authority is obtained.
• Educational centres should create and maintain a database of staff employed at the centre, details of the services provided by the centre and any other details required by the Competent Authority.
• A bank guarantee must be provided, which may be called fully or partially if a violation occurs; the law is silent as to the value of such guarantee which will be confirmed by a Ministerial decree.
• Penalties for violation of the law include imprisonment of up to 6 months and/or a penalty of QAR100,000 and/or cancellation or suspension of the licence.
• Educational centres subject to an investigation under the law may be closed for a maximum period of sixty days while the investigation takes place.
Note: Qatari laws (save for those issued by the Qatar Financial Centre to regulate internal business) are issued in Arabic and there are no official translations, therefore for the purposes of drafting this article we have used our own translations and interpreted the same in the context of Qatari regulations and current market practice.