All Qatari children will soon have to attend school from the age of three, the Peninsula reports.
A two-year curriculum based on “learning through play” will be introduced for children from ages three-five in “kindergarten” sections of state-funded independent schools. Currently, Qatari primary education begins at age five.
The Supreme Education Council (SEC) first introduced kindergartens in 2008, and there are currently 58 kindergartens operating in the public school system, with another ten planned to open this September.
The SEC has laid down stringent rules about the facilities that each school must have – including a library, a music room and both an indoor and outdoor playground.
The SEC says that it believes that starting early will give Qatari children the edge when it comes to language skills:
“Early education is based on the concept of learning through play. Psychologists have found that this is highly important for the development of children, especially their language skills. Once they become fluent in their first language, it will be easy for them to learn other languages”.
The SEC’s Education and Training Sector Strategy 2011-2016 identifies the teaching of English in particular as one of its priorities, noting an “underachievement” in the area.
School place squeeze
Although these rules only apply to Qatari children, it’s possible the new demand for pre-school places could mean an even greater squeeze on Qatar’s over-subscribed private school sector.
Kindergartens and pre-schools are popular options for Qatar’s expat community, with many international schools offering education from three years old.
The most popular schools have lengthy year-round waiting lists.
Amid the unprecedented demand, the SEC has allowed only a few private schools to raise their fees for the upcoming year.
Some 80 private schools and kindergartens applied for a fee increase this year.
Credit: Photo by MastCharter