New figures show that families are shouldering an increasingly heavy financial burden to educate their children in Qatar.
According to the Supreme Education Council’s 2012-2013 Schools and Schooling Report, the average annual cost of educating a child in Qatar is now QR13,026, up from QR10,208 last year.
This figure factors in the free schooling offered to Qatari children at government-run independent schools, as well as the cost of an overall education – including tuition fees and books – at private Arabic and international schools.
Average aside, the cost of education varies widely in Qatar. International schools (which include American, British, Indian and Filipino schools) top the list at QR21,503 per year, while private Arabic schools cost an average of QR16,137/year. Independent government schools are the cheapest, at QR8,309 annually.
This year’s report states that international school fees have actually gone down by QR2,809 in the past year. This news comes as the SEC denied the majority of requests from private schools to increase fees for the current academic year.
However, the report doesn’t take into account what’s going on at “community” schools, which are tied to their countries’ embassies, an SEC official told Doha News.
Many of these institutions have announced large fee increases in the past year, including prominent British school Doha College, which raised tuition by 12 percent.
The report also shows that teachers’ credentials and number of instruction hours students receive varies widely between school systems. Additionally, 45 percent of all teachers changed jobs last year as many staff members reported dissatisfaction with their salaries and how their schools were being run.
The fee rises at some schools come as the country grapples with a severe shortage of places at private institutions. These schools are generally the only educational option for the country’s expat community, in part because the independent school system curriculum is conducted in Arabic.
Demand for places in Qatar’s schools has increased enormously in the last few years, and the country’s most popular institutions have very long waiting lists.
However, the government’s recently announced 2014-15 budget includes a promise to construct 85 new schools over the next year and a half, a move which could help ease the situation, which has been fueled by the country’s rapid population growth.
By the numbers
The SEC’s latest annual report gives a breakdown of the student population in Qatar, which it says is 45 percent Qatari, 35 percent “other Arabs,” and 20 percent non-Arabs.
It also quantifies the average number of teaching hours per week in the three types of schools. Students are taught:
- 21 hours/week in international schools;
- 16.5 hours/week in private Arabic schools; and
- 13.6 hours/week in independent schools
The report also shows that 30 percent of teachers in Qatar’s schools have received no formal training. International schools have the lowest percentage of untrained teachers (18 percent), followed by private Arabic schools (30 percent) and independent schools (34 percent).
These figures are largely the same as last year, and the overall average for all schools has been constant for the last two years.
Interestingly, only 59 percent of principals at private Arabic schools have formal teaching qualifications, compared to 77 percent at international schools, and 78 percent at independent schools.
The report also shows that turnover of teaching staff is high across all of Qatar’s schools, but is particularly acute in private Arabic schools, which saw 64 percent of their staff change in the academic year, compared to 52 percent in international Schools, and 38 percent in independent government schools.
While outgoing staff were not asked in the SEC survey why they were leaving, the report does provide insights into the working conditions of educators in Qatar.
Some 85 percent of independent school teachers said they were unhappy with their remuneration, and 34 percent of international school teachers and 23 percent of teachers at private Arabic schools echoed that sentiment.
Furthermore, only 61 percent of teachers in international schools said they’re happy about the way their school is being run, making them the least content group by school type. Conversely, the majority (89 percent) of independent school teachers said they’re happy with the way their school is being managed.
Professional development also seems to be an area of concern, with the average number of hours devoted to further training dropping from 54.1 hours in 2011 to 41 hours in 2013.
The teacher-student ratio varies significantly across the three school types – from nine students per teacher in government schools, 13.3 in private Arabic schools, to 17.9 in international schools.
Teachers, parents and students themselves appear to have vastly different perceptions of how much studying is taking place outside of school hours.
Students report doing an average of 6.3 hours/week of homework. That’s nearly triple the 2.2 hours/week parents say their children are studying. Meanwhile, teachers say they are assigning 1.2 hours of homework a week.
The figures were relatively consistent across age levels and school types.
Private Arabic schools offer far fewer extra curricular activities than international and independent schools, although parents and students don’t seem to mind, with overall satisfaction levels being fairly similar across all three school types.
On a positive note, around 80 percent of parents from all three school types report that they are satisfied with the performance of their child’s school.
To further gauge public opinion, the SEC has launched an online survey in both Arabic and English, designed to gather opinions and suggestions about the educational system in Qatar.
You can take part in the survey here.
And you can view the full SEC report here:
I can add another reason why teachers are dissatisfied with remaining in Qatar and that is the intimidation they receive from local parents and the unhealthy balance of power they have in influencing how a school is run. Teachers are very aware after a few months of teaching in Qatar that local parents have an unhealthy balance of power. The extreme case being the treatment of Dorje at Qatar Academy. Im sure people have made up their own minds on how his experience was handled.
When there are no independent witnesses how can a school make the decision to terminate a teacher’s contract over accusations from 12 year old boys?
The same can be said with the police investigation (or lack of) when they decided to imprison him.
Dorje was never given his day in court (or time to prove himself outside of jail) to have any of the accusations investigated properly, although I’m sure he was happy to leave Qatar without having to prolong his stay. Qatar effectively saved itself from an ongoing court case which would have been extremely hard to prove otherwise and would only highlight the failings of the judicial system.
I might sound passionate about what I write because I have been through similar circumstances but I went though the full process. I was eventually found innocent after going through all the typical problems people experience with the Qatari judicial system.
Despite being proven innocent I was deported from the country 6 months later despite having the full support from my school. Since leaving I filed a civil suit against the family and have found out that after more than 2 years my case had been dismissed by the judge. I am still waiting to hear the report why I was not successful. Having been found innocent by the Qatari criminal courts and appeals court I will be very interested in hearing why nobody is responsible for my false imprisonment, loss of employment, financial costs, and the emotional trauma of going through a rape case in Qatar.
Still waiting for justice!
But I think this is the issue in many countries. The average career span for new teachers in the US is 4.5 years and one of the main reasons is parents. People nowadays think their kids are Einstein geniuses who do no wrong, and it is the teachers fault if their child does poorly in school. Now obviously parents in qatar are a little worse because they think money gives them power.
As someone who has been teaching at a top international school here for 7 years, I can tell you that many teachers leave because they only come to work for a few years for tax free money. Then when their house is paid off or their debt is paid off they go back home. They are not invested in living here. Whereas teachers in private Arabic schools have plans to stay in qatar long term. Most teachers in international schools do not want to stay in qatar long term.
Agree with you, at no point was I eluding that the above was the main reason for why teachers leave (in the end everyone has to leave Qatar), but it is a contributing factor.
In most countries though a parent’s complaint would not lead to instant dismissal because it is easier to get rid of a teacher than dealing with an unhappy family. At the same time an accusation within school would never result in an immediate imprisonment.
This is why I said Qatar is a little bit worse because of how the society is, nationals have the final say. But this isn’t a common occurrence in Qatar where teachers get fired or thrown in jail unjustly. This is not the reason for the high turnover rate.
And trust me. Private schools in other countries where wealthy children attend, teachers do get fired if a child from a high profile family is unhappy.
I’m afraid these 85 new schools are just not going to be enough. Unless they take 1000 pupils each they are not going to make a dent in the waiting lists at all. And with the lack of qualified teachers and the poor pay, working and living conditions that teachers experience here its going to be hard to see how these new schools will be able to offer a quality education to the families of the new people who would come here to help improve this country. Getting people interested in coming here is difficult enough without the education issues. Just putting up new buildings is not enough. Quality is key in education, not quantity!
85 schools that will be understaffed, under-resourced, and underfunded unless something changes.
Very informative article. Thanks Doha News.
No wonder Qataris ranks at the bottom of world league tables for education: 13.6 hours a week in school, over a third of teachers don’t hold teaching qualifications, and poor resources.
A mere $2,300 per pupil on tuition in the independent schools in nothing short of a disgrace for such a wealthy country. This is less than Mexico.
That parents complain about tuition and fees at the present rates is equally troubling. The average cost for a state-educated kid in the U.S. is about 43,000 QAR. Private school in England would cost at least 60-70,000 QAR (a state school would be free, but then the parents would have to pay heavy taxes to get it). What everyone is getting in Qatar is an absolutely steal.
What this country and its inhabitants (expat and national alike) needs is some perspective. Good education is expensive. And people should be willing to spend more on in that they do on their cars.
When you compare Qatar school fees with the private equivalent in UK and US then yes we shouldn’t complain.
But I do complain because it’s not value for money.
Education here is a one size fits all system. There are no innovative schools here. Maybe Qatar is still too small and it will happen in time. I don’t know. But every new British or American school is more of the same.
In the British schools the curriculum is staid dry and boring. Teachers are disillusioned underpaid and constrained. Too much ad hoc interference from SEC. Not enough accountability for the quality of the education and development of the children. No real PHSE education which is vital for all round development. The British schools here would be ripped apart by OFSTED if they ever got a visit from them. The management tends to cherry pick from the British system what suits them and ignore what is either costly or not considered important.
I complain because of that. We pay for our children’s education twice because we have to engage a private tutor to make up the shortfall.
I think it goes to the adage that we get what we pay for. My experience is with DESS and ASD. Although much-celebrated and with an obscene waiting, I would say DESS is good if compared to an English state school and middling or below average if compared to a private one. Considering the fees a mere, 30,000 QAR a year, it’s reasonably good value for money. Personally, I would rather pay more and have a better school with an innovative curriculum.
ASD is about in the same boat in terms of the primary school, but it’s high school is considerably better that most American suburban high schools.
I can’t speak to the other schools. There are likely plenty that over charge, as they are literally money-making businesses.
My comments were on the averages stated in the article, which are abysmally low for a country as wealth as Qatar. People (or the government), need to spend far more if they hope for a better education system.
But my point is we don’t get what we pay for. Our school fees are not far off QR50k. No swimming pool. Over crowded. Poorly managed. Out in the sticks. And because of a shortage of places here in Doha there is no real option to move. Don’t get me wrong, the school is ‘not bad’ and we are lucky this school year to have a wonderful classroom teacher in front of our daughter. But we have not always been lucky in the past with the classroom teacher.
But ‘ not bad’ is not good enough for that price. I would happily pay more if it guaranteed a better education and cohesive social environment for our daughter to thrive in.
We don’t have any choice here other than to pay for our children’s education. The problem is there are no real choices on offer here. Every school offers a very average narrow education and those are the good ones. DESS is probably the best primary british school in Doha in terms of price, quality of education, and facilities. With the beauty of hindsight (it’s a gift I have inherited), I would choose DESS anytime over and above all other british schools.
If you are paying 50K then you are clearly being robbed. My point was in terms of the averages in fees the article was citing. Spending the average of $2,300 per pupil would inevitably result in a horrible education.
“Qatar will build 85 new schools in the next 18 months”
Doha College an established successful school worked with the Qatari Government for over 3 years unsuccessfully to find land suitable to build a new school. Given the inflated cost of construction the cost to build that school if/when land was acquired was about USD$100 m 2 years ago – it would be more today.
Qatars budget for education increased 7.22% – around USD$500m.
To build 85 new schools we need to solve the following problems
1. 85 large empty but serviced plots of land in Doha near to where people live & work as ideally no parent wants to drive for miles to drop their kids off
2. Build a school for USD$500 /85 = USD$5.9m verses the USD$100 m that one of Dohas best schools identified it would cost to construct to achieve a similar standard.
3. All 85 to be built in 18 months
I’m not sure if whoever made these statements was suffering from an educational legacy issue or was the same person who planned the airport.
There’s a good plot near us in Duhail. Anyone got any contact details so I can let them know before its full of yet more villas?
Or another mall.
Wait, that’s like a school every two weeks…I can’t speak to how realistic that is from a planning, designing, sourcing and constructing perspective, but it seems incredibly optimistic. However, from a staffing perspective I can say with confidence that it is a fantasy.
Wonder how much their consultants got paid for this nonsensical pipe dreams.