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Friday, July 23, 2021

Qatar education council to relax enrollment rules for private schools

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For illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s education authority will ease some of the restrictions governing private school enrollment, which should make it easier for students to join schools mid-way through the academic year and move up or down a year with their parents’ permission.

The Supreme Education Council (SEC) yesterday announced the new regulations, which reverse some of the strict measures introduced earlier this academic year.

For the past several months, students coming from abroad could not easily enroll in a private school after Nov. 9, and all new pupils in Qatar were required to have two years’ worth of reports from their previous schools, which had to be attested by the SEC’s Evaluation Institute.

This body would issue a certificate of equivalency, which would dictate the year group into which the child was permitted to enroll.

However, these directives caused a headache for many parents, some of whom were unable to get a school place for their children if they arrived in the country after the cut-off starting date.

The strict school-year policy was also criticized for not taking into account very bright children who would benefit from being moved up a year, or children who required additional help and needed to be placed into a lower year group.

New regulations

According to the latest guidelines, which were announced by the SEC’s assistant director for Private Schools Affairs Ayesha al-Hashemi, children will now be allowed to enroll in a school even if it is the middle of the academic year.

The SEC has set a new “registration window” from March 2 to Oct. 15, 2015, for students to sign up to start at new schools. Those wishing to join outside of this period need to apply to the SEC for permission, according to local media reports.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The education authority has also removed the equivalency certificate, so parents in Qatar no longer need to get permission to move their children between private schools, if there are spaces at the school in question.

It also means that families newly arriving to Qatar only need to provide a report from their child’s previous school. Under the new directive, the report does not need to be attested by the SEC.

However, Qatari students moving from a private school to an independent (state) school, are required to have their reports authenticated by the SEC’s Attestation and Equivalency Unit to prove that they are moving into the correct year group, the Peninsula reports.

Previously strict rules about the year group into which children are placed also appear to have been relaxed.

The SEC said it would give guidelines for appropriate year groups according to the child’s age through an equivalency table of international education systems for the 2015-16 academic year.

Children who would benefit from moving up or down a school year would be permitted to do so, as long as parents sign a consent form. The school must also inform the SEC’s Private School Office and provide evidence to support its decision.

However, the maximum age difference between students of the same class should not be more than two years, the Gulf Times reports.

Schools’ response

The new guidelines have been welcomed by some private schools in Qatar as a show of flexibility by the SEC. In a statement to Doha News, Niall Brennan, Director of Park House English School, said:

“We are delighted to read of the direction given by the Private School’s Office with regards (to) registering children at schools. This new guidance is a result of a detailed collaborative process between the SEC and Private Schools and clearly demonstrates that there is a constructive and productive relationship ensuring that best practice drives education here in Qatar.

With a heavily expatriate presence in Qatar and children from literally hundreds of curriculums, countries and educational disciplines it is essential that we have a flexible system that guides schools whilst ensuring that children get the very best educational experience and parents are included and consulted along the way.”

However, one area that may continue to cause some difficulty for new Qatar residents concerns the existing rules on visas. Children with visas valid for less than a year will still not be permitted to enroll in private schools, local newspapers report.

This would mean that visitors on six-month family visas or one-month renewable tourist visas would, in theory, not be able to get a private school place for their children.

As many new residents must now provide six months worth of bank statements before they are able to sponsor their family, and thus secure Residence Permits (RPs) for them, this is another potential hurdle for children who have recently moved to Qatar.

The SEC has also said it would enforce rules on schools’ designated capacity, and they will be monitored to ensure they don’t accept more pupils than they are permitted to.

New schools

As parents report ongoing pressure for places in Qatar schools, the SEC said it has plans to open dozens of new schools in the coming academic year.

For illustrative purposes only
For illustrative purposes only

Al-Hashemi said that 91 new private schools have been given initial approval to open by September this year, although the number which will actually open their doors then is likely to be lower.

There will also be six new Indian schools, with some possibly opening at the start of the Indian academic year next month, she added.

Last month, the SEC issued a statement saying 14 Indian schools and kindergartens would be open in the next academic year.

While there are 29 schools and kindergartens in Qatar serving the Indian community, parents have previously voiced their frustration that there are not enough school places to meet demand.

Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal told Doha News last month that it is constructing a total of 33 new schools and kindergartens ahead of September. This should create space for 11,050 school-age students as well as 1,440 children attending kindergarten, although this is thought to be a mix of private and independent schools.

Thoughts?

24 COMMENTS

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Coco
Coco
6 years ago

Uhmm what do you mean by “Indian academic year”? I’m confused…is it referring to an Indian academic year in Qatar or in India?

MS
MS
6 years ago
Reply to  Coco

Indian academic year starts in April, as opposed to other schools where new session starts in September

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

The SEC is making rules as if they didn’t know what they were doing. It speaks for their competence.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

Governing by trial and error doesn’t work when children education is at stake

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

How very true. Playing with kids lives

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Normally the SEC makes a mess of things but credit where it’s due this is a sensible decision and will actually improve things for many parents

parent
parent
6 years ago

There is a shortage of school places for the “expat schools”. That’s where parents feel the greatest pressure. I have a feeling these schools are a bit racist. They take your application fee, then they don’t even give your child a chance for an assessment. Why not? I suspect it’s because the child’s name is not a Western name. This is largely the trend, I suspect. I wish SEC would pick some of these schools and investigate how their application process went this year. They could ask a third party to pick who they would call in for assessment. They could then compare and see if the third party’s picks are also skewed towards Western names.
Some may argue that the schools are just looking for native English speakers. However I am arguing that the schools, burdened with hundreds of applications at each grade level, may be selecting their English speakers by looking at their names, rather than by carefully reading through each nursery report, which is what the 500 QAR application fee pays for, at the very least!
If looking into all this or proving any of this is not feasible, then SEC should at least make a rule by which a school can only charge a fee if the child is assessed. Otherwise, it really is just a SCAM.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  parent

This is because you believe the private schools in he region are here to help educate your child when in reality they are businesses looking for a profit.. Do you know its a qatari dream to own a license to operate a private school… Anyone who does have the license and the real estate to run a school will be pulling in serious $$$$

SEC should fixed the profits retained by schools .. Say 10 or 15% anything beyond that is either reinvested into the school or is rebated to the parents …

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Qataris dream of money?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  parent

I guess it depends on what schools you are taking about. The American school should look at US passports first, British schools should prioritize British Nationals with an allowance for Qataris who want to attend those schools.

Only if there is free spaces after that they should consider other nationalities

reem
reem
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

you are wrong even if it is an American school it’s not open in America but in Qatar, therefore, Qataris should be the priority then Americans and then other nationalities. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but that’s how it goes.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  reem

That would seem ok most of the time but I would assume certain schools are geared towards providing an education towards a certain nationality and culture.

I think it’s irrevelant though as it does not seem to be an issue for Qataris getting admission to the school of their choice. (Unless they fail the entrance test)

reem
reem
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

what you say is true but not really applied everywhere it seems unfair though but it depends on one’s will whether they are entering to study or just to play around

DesertLily2015
DesertLily2015
6 years ago
Reply to  reem

Completely understand and that’s fine except understand that we Americans are not here on vacation (although it is a lovely country), we’re 7,000 miles + away from home and volunteered to come here to work and help this country grow and prosper. Our kids will likely go to American colleges, so require the American high school curriculum, preparation for the SAT, etc. If those seats dry up, you’ll lose high quality workers, especially those with high schoolers. Many younger American children go to British schools here, and that’s wonderful – but by high school, unless they plan to take A levels and go to college in the UK, they need to be in the U.S. curriculum like AP classes, etc. If we had a high school in the U.S. to prepare Qataris for Qatar University, I don’t think we would say that priority should go to Americans because the school is in the U.S. Also, the American School of Doha has many funding streams besides Qatari $.

reem
reem
6 years ago
Reply to  DesertLily2015

What you said is right but that’s how things go around everywhere not just here and about the kids going yo British schools it’s fine if they take a levels the still can go to an American college/university

Soup
Soup
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Actually they prioritize employees of companies that have bought out school places. Further evidence that the ultimate goal is money, not education. SEC should put some appropriate rules into place.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Soup

At the American School it is a great education.

artichoke
artichoke
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

So children that hold other passports and are of nationality that has no school in Qatar would attend which school exactly? My child is Greek and since there is no greek school in Doha, he should be the last to be admitted in English or American school?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  artichoke

Have you tried the indian schools there are many here.

artichoke
artichoke
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I’m sure there are many great Indian schools, but since we will return sooner or later to europe, it would be nice if a child could follow curriculum close to the one in our country.
And my child is already enrolled in school, along with many other italian, hungarian, spanish, portugese children that you suggest should be last in the line as there are no schools only for them.

Kiaran Sedwig
Kiaran Sedwig
6 years ago
Reply to  artichoke

Out of curiosity which school is this?

taurz
taurz
6 years ago
Reply to  artichoke

Actually, the Indian schools don’t have enough seats to cater to the Indian students. So they try not to entertain other nationalities. Also, as you said, it would be better for you to look at European/American schools as ultimately you would be returning to the region. The Indian syllabus would be difficult for anybody outside of the South Asian sub continent due to the regional languages other syllabus pertaining to that particular region in their curriculum.

Amber
Amber
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Most schools here give admission based on first come, first serve. Some people here are mistaken that western schools only look at American or British children or what country’s curriculm they follow . When you sign up for admissions usually your child is assigned a number in the system. If your number never come up then of course they will not call you back. Also you won’t find a lot of kids leaving the top schools which also limits spaces.

The school I work in has a waiting list of 500 kids. And that waiting list is small compared to some other schools in Qatar.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  parent

At the American school there are many students from many different countries. But they do have to speak english quite fluently to get in obviously.

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