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Monday, March 8, 2021

Sparking debate, SEC to offer vouchers to Qataris who wish to attend private schools

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Qataris who want to go to private school here will now get funding from the government to do so, the Supreme Education Council has said.

The move, which is sure to have far-reaching implications for Qatar’s public school system, is being criticized as ”an admission by the state that its school education reform … has failed,” the Peninsula reports.

The SEC says it is extending its voucher program, which already covers some 177 public (independent) schools, to include select private schools so that families will have more choice about their children’s educations.

That makes sense, given that Qatar’s independent schools, which have been trying to improve under a decade-old reform program, continue to face a host of problems.

Flailing schools

Its students hold some of the world’s worst standardized test scores. Concerns about attracting qualified staff have also been sparked amid talk of putting salary caps on teachers, who are also going to be required to pass stringent aptitude testing.

Nearly three dozen of such schools are eligible to be paid for by financial aid of up to QR28,000 ($7,600) annually, including the American School of Doha, Doha College, the Cambridge schools and MES Indian school.

But critics say the decision could have serious negative implications.

The Peninsula reports:

The move sends out a clear message that the Independent Schools are no good, so Qatari parents who would like to send their children to private schools of their choice, should exercise that option with glee, say critics…

What is more worrisome is that the coupon system triggers fears of private schools raising their fees and making Qatari parents cough up QR10,000 to QR12,000 per annum extra.

Qatari parents apart, this would put immense financial strains on expatriate parents.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Jeffrey

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