Recently-introduced rules that require students entering Qatar’s education system to provide attested school reports are causing an additional burden for many expats moving to the country.
The Supreme Education Council (SEC) has ordered that all children coming from abroad who are trying to secure a place in a state or private school from Year 2 onwards must first provide two years’ worth of reports from their previous schools.
The documents must be attested in the country in which the child was educated, then presented to the SEC’s Evaluation Institute to be approved and issued with a certificate of equivalency, which will state the year into which they are entitled to be enrolled.
While the new system was discussed earlier this year, the SEC only began enforcing it with schools and parents in September.
It is understood that the aim behind the measures is to ensure that children are put into the correct year group for their age.
However, the extra paperwork required has created additional pressures on schools and recently-arrived residents, particularly those whose children went to school in far-flung locations and for whom securing the necessary attestations is complicated and expensive.
Meanwhile, some headteachers have privately raised concerns that the system doesn’t take into account gifted children, who could benefit from being moved up a year ahead of their peers, or pupils who need to be put back or repeat a year.
The document attestation rule also doesn’t address the problem of children changing curriculums, for example if a student previously attended an American school and then switches to an Indian or British one.
Another issue that educators must grapple with in terms of matching students up with their appropriate years is varying calendars.
Schools around the world typically organize their academic year around the summer holidays. This means countries in the southern hemisphere such as Brazil, South Africa and Australia have a school year that runs from January/February to December.
By comparison, those in the northern hemisphere have a school year that runs from September to June or July.
So a child who was in the South African system who tries to move to a British or American curriculum in Qatar could encounter problems.
Finally, the labels of each year group do not match up from country to country. For example, children in Year 1 in Ireland learn from a different curriculum than students in Year 1 in England or Wales.
The attestation rule comes as new expats are already struggling with another new SEC directive not to allow any children coming from abroad to register with a Qatar school after Nov. 9.
This means that families who arrive in Qatar after this time could be forced to home-school their child until the start of the new academic year the following September.
Some employers fear that the rule could act as a disincentive to attracting top international talent to Qatar if they face the prospect of their children missing up to one whole academic year of schooling.
How it works
Attestation requirements are now spelled out on the websites of many of the most popular international schools in Qatar.
However, some details remain unclear. It is not explained whether the school report only needs to be signed by a notary in the county of origin, or whether it must also be attested by the local education authority and Embassy of Qatar in that country, as is required for higher education certificates when residents seek employment in Qatar.
Schools warn parents to liaise directly with the SEC for precise details. British school Doha College, for example, says on its website: “Please contact the SEC Attestation Office for exact clarification of this regulation.”
In addition to the attested reports, the education authority also requires children to have a valid Residence Permit (RP).
As many new residents must now provide six months worth of bank statements before they are able to sponsor their family, and thus secure RPs for them, this is another potential hurdle to recently-arrived children starting school.
The new regulations have caused consternation for many people considering a move to Qatar, with the comments on some online expat forums highlighting the lack of clarity on the issue.
As the new rules come into force, it appears that they are being applied to many children who have already been in the Qatar education system during the past academic year.
Kelly Nelson has two children at ACS International school – now in Grade 2 and Grade 4.
Having started at the school in October 2013, the kids have already successfully completed one academic year at the school and progressed to the next year.
However, in an email sent to parents earlier this month, the Head of School Steve Calland-Scoble advised that they were still required to submit reports from their previous school.
As Nelson’s children attended a school on the small Caribbean island of Dominica, the logistics of organizing the necessary attestations is proving problematic. She told Doha News:
“The island has no postal system, so we would need to send the documents by courier to a friend, and persuade them to try to get the reports to a notary.
However, there are maybe only two or three notaries on the island, and even then they may not agree to sign and stamp the reports without us being there in person.”
With no diplomatic mission for Qatar in Dominica, requirements for an embassy stamp on the documents would require further travel and expense.
ACS has advised parents that the SEC has allowed an extension until the end of the current academic year for them to secure the necessary attestations and approvals, as long as they sign a commitment to do so in time.
“The school has been very understanding of our situation, and they are trying to help us, but ultimately it is an SEC rule which they have to implement,” Nelson said.
“It seems silly that my children still need to provide the previous school reports when they have already completed a grade and were promoted to the next year in Qatar.”
The new regulations could pose problems for businesses in Qatar trying to recruit high-caliber international staff.
The manager of an American company based in Doha, who asked not to be named, told Doha News that he was currently recruiting but was concerned that candidates might turn down job offers if they could not easily get their children into school.
“Top quality professionals operate in a global market place. It is difficult to understand how additional bureaucracy for school children can help Qatar to attract the brightest and best talent, which is what we’re trying to do to help deliver the National Vision 2030,” he said.
Ridiculous. Let the schools evaluate the level of the child and match them to the appropriate level. Another example of Qatars obsession with stamping every document with seals and stamps etc. So backward.
Agreed. Why Qatar has to approve where each and every expat child is place within a particular school system is micromanagement at its finest. Sounds like a way to employ more nationals and increase the bureaucracy needlessly. And as some of the commentators in the story noted, it WILL affect recruitment here.
And about this point: “The Supreme Education Council (SEC) has ordered that all children coming from abroad who are trying to secure a place in a state or private school from Year 2 onwards must first provide two years’ worth of reports from their previous schools.” Year 2 = Grade 1 (when kids are typically 6-7 years old). There actually ARE some places around the globe where children don’t have 2 full years of schooling prior to that point (see: http://www.nfer.ac.uk/shadomx/apps/fms/fmsdownload.cfm?file_uuid=3B48895C-E497-6F68-A237-BCD7AB934443&siteName=nfer). What do they plan to do about those kids?
“We’re not really sure what we’re doing here, but if we ask for enough credentials and throw up enough distraction from what’s really important, maybe it will look like we do.”
In my experience of someone has to inform you that they’re “Supreme,” they’re usually far from it.
This is way it is dangerous to put an idiot in a position of power, because with a stroke of a pen thousands of lives are made unnecessarily difficult.
Why is Qatar’s government so invested in this attestation process? Attested degrees, attested certifications, attested school reports… It is the employer’s / school’s / whatever’s job to decide how deep to verify qualifications.
The whole attestation process is essentially meaningless anyway when you dig into it.
Haha, you begin to wonder if anyone at the SEC ever went to school themselves. Next requirement will be an attested 100m certificate notarised by Usain Bolt before they are allowed to play sports.
Sadly, what you said may not be too far from the truth :/
Its another way of saying , NO more Families in Qatar , we need single ppl who would rent 1 bed room apartments , work like a pig , take your annual leave if you can once a year back home unless you give up in 2 years and your company happily replacing you with another modern slaved employee .
your not allowed to live normally , its the Qatari way , makes you think if any of the ppl in SEC have ever lived a normal life or actually attended any school or education system that is up to standards !!!
You have a wild imagination.
Coming from a person who thinks idiots in a position of power!!
I take it English isn’t your language of choice?
unless you mistake the written above for another language Mr. Abdulrahman !!
Rubbish English is what it is.
Coming from a person who was degraded 2 years in school , LOOOL , enough learned from you
Your comprehension skills are as poor as your writing. I was 2 years above my age group out of Doha, I was put in the same age group when I returned. There was no “degraded 2 years” (whatever that is suppose to mean).
Seriously learn proper English dude…
The fact that your level of understanding is too crucial to understand the meaning of “degraded” highly suggests the level reached of education and understanding dude 🙂
Perhaps the Sec should concentrate on lifting the abysmal pisa scores Qatar has, now that would be beneficial!
Why not start following up on students who have absentees issues, and those who are in 12th grade and yet cant speak proper English or even have to use calculators for a simple 11 by 12 ? it’s the output of traditional education system that needs reconstruction, rather than attesting the outcome of international schools which already have a STANDARD. Definitely, this new procedure will deter not only the talented expats, but also whoever have a family from coming here and contributing to the development of any sector.
I guess they tried to fix the problems with the local schools, to put them in line with the international schools and failed miserably. So next step – create enough problems for the international schools to bring them down a notch or two.
And, prey, what is the rationale behind the changes?
English lessons? If you don’t pray, you might become prey?
Maybe he thinks he’s a lion or something, and the SEC is his prey :p
The policy is based on the need to keep the kids out of schools which would save on building new schools. The money can then be spent on more badly needed shopping malls.
Thank goodness I don’t have any children. The schooling system in Qatar is becoming a disaster. High fees and all these foolish rules in place. The SEC’s so called regulations are causing more problems than solving. They are clueless about education and how every other school system runs on this planet. You cannot base grade placement solely on age. There are children who fall above and below that age recommendation.
If I was a parent in Qatat I’d be homeschooling my kids.
There were a couple of gifted kids in the school I work in who skipped a grade. The SEC came in and told us we had to put them back a grade because of their age. The parents and children were devasted. The poor kids are not gaining anything in the class because the work is easy and not challenging enough.
This was done even before the SEC was around, I used to live in Switzerland and was two grade above my peers there, however when I returned to Doha they forced me to go down in grade based on my age group.
Maybe the school you were in did this but this rule wasn’t enforced until recently. I’ve been working in different schools for the past 7 years in Qatar and I’ve never come across this issue until now.
That was the old ministry of education, and when the SEC just started… They’ve always been doing that for public schools and Qatari students.
And the SEC strikes again!
“In addition to the attested reports, the education authority also requires children to have a valid Residence Permit (RP).” What I love about Qatar is that you just can’t make this stuff up! LOL
What’s the problem with that? They should be legally residing in Qatar.
Osama, A good question. My answer to that would be, if you are an educated person who is looking to relocate to a new country, it would not be in the best interests of your child’s education to arrive without having gained ‘acceptance’ into a solid school. In Qatar’s case, the very good schools are extremely difficult to gain admission and I just can’t fathom a school administrator saying to a family ‘don’t worry about it, we will hold a space open in grade 8 as well as grade 7 and grade 9 just incase the SEC does not agree with the level of education as attested in your home country.
Exactly. Good friends of mine recently finally had Sidra absolutely guarantee 2 spots at Compass for their children, otherwise they simply were not coming. Without the spot, sorry but you will have to recruit the next best person was the message to them. By the way they are now running around getting a 6 year olds report attested with bemusement…
I’m still not sure they require a valid RP “before” accepting a prospective student, they may be requiring it when the student joins their class?
Amazing English translation on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov.qa/En/Pages/ServiceDetails.aspx?SId=39
“Student Registration is diagonal guardian works in the private sector
shall register his child in a primary schools in age Tsjbl the student
or student registration is diagonal in the morning education at the age
of 6 years and in accordance with the compulsory education in the State
of Qatar and until the eighth century or the end of the preparatory
phase, whichever is earlier.”
Well why don’t they do that, rather than come up with stupid rules.
Well why don’t they do that, rather than come up with stupid rules…….
In check from what? Why is your comment repeated several times as a new comment? If you have something to add do so. If you don’t, the first comment was a sufficient .
Ok. But what is the SEC’s mandate and its goals? Who is keeping them in check? They are a joke…from suddenly changing school terms mid way through a year thus disrupting thousands of families plans, to this debacle. Have they ever heard of stakeholder engagement? No probably not, as is seen Qatar wide stakeholder engagement is considered weak. Draconian systems, draconian thinking and the result….very low PISA Scores. Very low attendance rates in government schools..a nation whose foundation level of education is appallingly dysfunctional and not producing engaged students who are at world standards. Some (not all) the measures against the SEC should be; 1. PISA scores and increase, 2. Attendance rates, 3. retention rates, 4. student engagement, 5. Student andparent satisfaction, 6. Teacher qualification, development and retention…etc etc. But no lets waste money and time, whilst creating a public perception nightmare by making people have a 5 year olds school report attested, stamped by all and sundry….
Anyway you look at it Wonderer the SEC is failing with a capital F.
I wonder what would happen if they marched everyone from the SEC over to MOI and just had them exchange jobs.Would the schools be better and the roads safer?
What the SEC should be probably doing is to check the quality of teaching, and the facilities in school etc. But putting parents and kids into unwanted stress for documents to be sent from some school in some part of the world to continue to education is really unfair.
Typical one-size-fits-all approach by the SEC. Makes me not miss the six years I taught in Qatar.
Sheen Services WLL in a very professional way is assisting parents solve new attestation requirement.
I totally agree with you Observant One. My kids moved from an American school to a British school and the SEC simply does not understand that the two systems are not the same in the way each labels their grade levels. For example, in American system Grade 3 or Third grade is equivalent to Year 4 in British system. But they do not understand that at the SEC and think that Grade 3 means Year 3 just because the numbers match! It’s ridiculous! It’s obvious that those in charge at the SEC are not educators and do not understand simple math, sorry to say that. Parents of expats should fight to overthrow this new rule/law because it doesn’t make sense and it’s unnecessary. Every paper in Qatar has to be stamped stamped stamped stamped by so many people! So frustrating.
Education should be accessible to all, irregardless of nationality. This is not good for expats who has their kids in Qatar. Certificate of Equivalency should be abolished because it just ruins the image of Qatar being a family friendly country. Making life more miserable for parents and kids welfare, because SEC thinks that expats kids does not meet their qualification then they they will not be admitted to schools? or demoted to another year? What is going on in here?!