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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

‘No plans’ to reduce private school fees in Qatar, official says


An Education Committee official said in a statement that there are no current plans to reduce school fees for private schools, in a response to ongoing concerns raised by parents on the expensive cost of online learning. 

There are no plans to reduce fees in private schools in the country, Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Tawar Al Kuwari, First Vice Chairman of the Qatar Chamber and Chairman of the Education Committee of Qatar Chamber, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The official said though the current climate does not allow for drastic changes to the fees, authorities will consider a reduction when future investments are made within the education sector.

“There are requests from investors in the private education sector for state intervention and more facilities to encourage investments in this sector,” Al Kuwari assured. “There are continuous calls for liberalisation of private school fees in response to supply and demand so that the market becomes free.”

“I expect that fees will decrease in the future with new investments and supply will exceed demand, increasing the competitiveness of these institutions. This period will witness a decrease in private school fees, compared to the past three years that witnessed pressure on private schools,” he added. 

The remarks come as concerns over the cost of online learning remains a stagnant issue in Qatar. Parents and students alike have urged authorities to slash costs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen all classes transfer to the online world and prevented access to essential school facilities.

“My son’s tuition fee is QR80,000 a year. Before, he had access to a lot of facilities, such as a gym, lab, training and the quality of learning itself. Now, all he does is stare at the screen all day and then complains that he doesn’t understand as well due to a general lack of focus,” one parent told Doha News.

“I understand that this is the only option, but why do I have to pay this much money for a decreased level of quality in education? The pandemic is affecting us, too.” 

Read also: Should universities slash tuition fees for online education?

Responding to the concerns, Al Kuwari said that despite the shift to online school, there are still financial obligations on all school owners that necessitate the ongoing fees. 

One way to potentially reduce private school fees is through increased investment, a move encouraged by the public-private partnership law in Qatar, as noted by Al Kuwari who confirmed many projects are underway.

On Tuesday, Qatari education officials, including Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Wahid Al Hammadi, met with the Education Committee of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss coordination and consult in several aspects related to private schools. 

The meeting also highlighted potential ways to encourage investors in the education sector and how to overcome the obstacles they face, especially with regards to the hurdles imposed by the pandemic.

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