Irate over tuition increases, some locals call for school boycott

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Fed up with what they are calling a broken education system, a group of Qataris on Twitter are urging parents to keep their children home from school on Oct. 1.

This week, supporters of the boycott have been tweeting on the hashtag #يوم_الأول_من_أكتوبر_لي_موقف (Oct. 1 – Will take a stand), gathering support from parents, teachers and controversial Qatari columnist Faisal Al Marzoqi.

The tipping point appears to the Supreme Education Council’s approval of tuition increases for certain private schools this year. Some parents have also complained that schools are charging Qatari children more to attend than expats.

(“Whoever approved the fee increase from the SEC is nothing but a complicit person who does not care about the citizens nor the country’s best interest.”)

(“SEC officials, citizens’ complaints didn’t come from nothing, they came from a constant suffering.. I wish you understood me.”)

Broaching the complaints, the SEC said on Tuesday that it would establish new criteria to govern the tuition fees of private schools, including the academic performance of students and quality of education provided.

In a statement sent to media, the council added that it allowed 28 private schools to raise fees this year, out of 130 schools seeking permission for a hike.

It acknowledged that Qataris would be charged more by some schools, but said that educational vouchers that locals can use at private schools would cushion the blow.

On Twitter, complaints also abound about the state of Qatar’s independent (public) school system. At particular issue is the SEC’s 2008 attempt to raise academic standards, an overhaul that many have viewed as a failure.

(“It’s unbelievable that curriculums change every single year!! This is exhausting for the student and the teacher – every year we have new books and they’re not even that good.”)

Despite the dissatisfaction, many residents are skeptical that the Oct. 1 boycott would be effective or gain traction.

(“Calling for the absence (especially of teachers) is a call for (civil disobedience) and does not have another name, and I think there is enough time to discuss the matter.”)

Thoughts?

Credit: Translation by Amin Isaac, photo for illustrative purposes only Max Klingensmith

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