Qatar’s public works authority has said construction on dozens of new schools and kindergartens is nearly complete and will be turned over to education authorities in time for the upcoming academic year.
The 33 new institutions are expected to create spaces for thousands of additional students at a time when many parents are struggling to find a school place for their children.
It’s not yet known who will operate the new schools, nor how many will be private versus independent (government-run). However, last year the majority of new schools that opened were private, reflecting the rapidly growing expat population in Qatar.
While Ashghal is responsible for supervising the construction of the new facilities, operations are overseen by the Supreme Education Council, which could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.
However, the SEC said in a statement earlier this month that 14 new Indian schools and kindergartens are expected to open in the next academic year.
Authorities have been racing to construct new schools to keep up with Qatar’s rapidly growing population.
In recent years, some parents have complained about the intense competition for spaces in the country’s private schools, which are generally the only schooling option for expats living in Qatar.
The shortage has broader economic implications for the country, as some highly skilled foreign workers may be unwilling to accept a job in Qatar if they perceive that it would be difficult to enroll their children in a reputable school.
However, an SEC official last week denied that there was an inadequate number of school places in Qatar:
“No Qatari or non-Qatari (student) who holds a residence permit has been forced to sit at home. Seats are available in all private schools and in all specializations,” Hamad Al Ghali, director of the SEC’s private schools office, was quoted by The Peninsula as saying.
Dozens of new schools have been constructed or announced in recent years. But the pace of development now appears to be picking up, with Ashghal saying it is currently overseeing education-related construction projects worth approximately QR3 billion (US$820 million).
Qatar’s 2014-15 state budget included funding to construct 85 new schools.
In addition to the buildings that are expected to open this fall, part of this budget appears to include other contracts Ashghal signed today with five construction firms to construct 17 new schools and six kindergartens that are slated to be completed by the third quarter of 2016.
Accommodating 12,000 kids
According to Ashghal’s figures, the new schools will create space for 11,050 school-age students as well as 1,440 children attending kindergarten.
The standard school design is a two-story, 9,159-square-meter structure containing a multipurpose hall, two computer rooms, two arts studios, a language room, administrative offices as well as chemistry, physics and biology labs.
The facilities also include covered parking lots and outdoor football, handball and volleyball courts.
Kindergartens would contain 12 classrooms in addition to a library, music room, language room and shaded playgrounds.
All new schools would be accessible to students, staff and visitors with disabilities and special needs, Ashghal added in a statement.
Speaking to Doha News today, Ashghal president Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi said more education-related construction announcements are on the horizon:
“This is not the end of projects being awarded for the schools. There are more schools to be built, and more contracts to be awarded.”
Separately, Al Mawlawi declined to discuss the Sharq Crossing when asked about its status by Doha News.
Last month, industry publication MEED reported that authorities had shelved the project – which was to consist of a 12-kilometer series of bridges and tunnels in Doha Bay – amid the country’s overheating construction sector and concerns it would not be completed in time for the 2022 World Cup.