Qatar’s education authority has agreed to increase the number of government-funded independent schools that admit children of expat parents working in the private sector, according to local media reports.
The move comes as Qatar struggles to cope with a shortage of places in the private sector.
By the time the new academic year begins in September, some 28 state schools will have been allowed to admit non-Qatari children, the Supreme Education Council (SEC) said.
However, these schools are only located in remote areas outside of Doha, where there are no private school options.
The districts include Al Shamal, Dukhan, Rawdat Al Rashid, Al Karana, Al Shahania, Al Ghuwairia, Al Kharsaa, Al Kaaban, Al Ghashamia, Al Jameelia, Semaisma and Al Dakheera, The Peninsula reports.
The SEC first began opening up independent schools to non-Qatari children whose parents don’t work for the government in May 2012. Previous to that, the schools only accepted children whose parents were employed by the nation’s public sector.
Earlier this week, the SEC distributed a list of all schools that would be part of the wider network, according to the Peninsula.
To qualify, children have to live in the area in which the school is situated, and their admission is subject to availability of places.
Once enrolled in an independent school, a student cannot then transfer to another independent school that has a private school nearby, a recently circular stated.
Ordinarily, only Qatari children, children of Qatari fathers and/or mothers and the offspring of GCC citizens are eligible to attend an independent kindergarten or school, according to the latest admission rules issued by the SEC this week.
Registration for admission to independent schools for the 2015/16 academic year opens on May 10 and runs until June 2.
With an expanding population, particularly among the expat sector, there has been increasing pressure on schools places in Qatar.
Authorities have recently been trying to address this by stepping up construction of buildings to house independent and private schools.
Earlier this year, Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal said construction of 33 new schools and kindergartens was nearly complete and they were preparing to ready them to hand over to education institutions before September.
Many of these are situated in areas outside of central Doha.
Meanwhile, last month the SEC said it would be relaxing some restrictions it had previously imposed on private schools, to make it easier for children to join schools mid-way through the academic year and to move between school years.
It was hoped that the new requirements would make it easier for expats moving to Qatar in the middle of the school year to find places for their children.