More than 600 independent school employees in Qatar were terminated from their jobs this week, according to local media reports.
Many of the positions will be Qatarized ahead of the new school year, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education told principals in a circular, Al Sharq reports.
A list of Qatari candidates has already been put forth to fill the vacated slots. There are mostly in administrative positions.
The newspaper added that the terminations have caught many school directors by surprise, especially because staff and teachers were given such short notice.
However, a senior education ministry official said the timing was to give those who were laid off a chance to look for other jobs.
Schools also need enough time to hire replacements, the official said, according to Al Raya.
Of the 650 people affected, about 15 percent — or 100 people — are teachers, the newspaper added.
Others include social workers, school bus monitors and administrative supervisors.
Some were contract workers, and many had already reached legal retirement age.
New school system
The layoffs come as Qatar is preparing to overhaul its education system so that it takes a more centralized approach.
Currently, government-funded independent schools operate with more autonomy.
But under a new law signed off on by the Emir earlier this month, the education ministry will serve as the authority regarding curriculum, staffing, school calendars, fees and disciplinary action.