THE ED­U­CA­TION SEC­TOR IS THE FOUN­DA­TION, PIL­LAR AND CORNER­STONE OF ANY COUN­TRY’S NA­TION-BUILD­ING EF­FORTS. IN OUR AN­NUAL ED­U­CA­TION SPOTLIGHT, QATARTO­DAY FO­CUSES ON THE AC­TIV­I­TIES OF SOME OF QATAR’S PREMIER ED­U­CA­TION IN­STI­TU­TIONS IN THE PAST YEAR.

Qatar Today - - EDUCATION SPOTLIGHT -

It’s the opportune time to bring out our an­nual ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor fea­ture. We are in­un­dated with press re­leases about new in­takes in var­i­ous col­leges in Qatar, with many boast­ing record num­bers this year. The two univer­si­ties in the coun­try are ex­pand­ing their of­fer­ings, with Qatar set to get its first home-grown med­i­cal school. There have been talks in the Supreme Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil about al­low­ing for­eign univer­si­ties to set up in Qatar, if re­cent media re­ports are to be be­lieved. All these rapid changes are al­ready be­ing re­flected in the work­force with the “Cul­tural Sta­tis­tics in Qatar” re­port re­leased by Min­istry of De­vel­op­ment, Plan­ning and Sta­tis­tics, stat­ing that Qatari women held 21% of the jobs in ed­u­ca­tion, the so­cial and nat­u­ral sciences and the media. In­ter­na­tional stu­dents are flock­ing to Doha in big­ger num­bers than ever to take ad­van­tage of the coun­try’s world-class higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. In a short while, Qatar has man­aged to rank it­self high on the pre­ferred ed­u­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions by stu­dents in the Mid­dle East be­cause of fac­tors such as sim­ple visa pro­ce­dures and the pres­ence of in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes of re­pute. Sev­eral new schools are set to open this aca­demic year to ease the stress on the des­per­ately un­der­served kinder­garten, pri­mary and sec­ondary school mar­kets.

Qatar re­tained its fourth po­si­tion among 148 coun­tries around the world last year in terms of the qual­ity of its ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to the Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness Re­port 20132014 and Alpen Cap­i­tal. And although for­eign in­vest­ment in the lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor leaves much to be de­sired (and one hopes the re­cently an­nounced changes in the com­mer­cial law will af­fect this for the bet­ter), the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to al­lo­cate a siz­able bud­get to­wards ed­u­ca­tion - $7.2 bil­lion last year, with a 100% in­crease for the next five years, much of this geared to­wards K12 ed­u­ca­tion. The pop­u­lar­ity of in­de­pen­dent schools in Qatar is a re­flec­tion of the suc­cess of gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives in this area. “Qataris pre­fer in­de­pen­dent schools over the pri­vate ones. The Ideation Cen­tre sur­vey shows that in­de­pen­dent schools score over pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions in terms of stu­dent pref­er­ence, trans­lat­ing into higher en­rol­ments,” ac­cord­ing to Alpen Cap­i­tal's GCC Ed­u­ca­tion In­dus­try re­port.

But there is no time to rest on our lau­rels. The de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try de­mands noth­ing short of sus­tained at­ten­tion, specif­i­cally in the K12, vo­ca­tional train­ing sec­tors and schools to cater to stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties (Qatar al­ready is ranked high­est in the GCC for its in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem). De­spite the coun­try’s de­mand for skilled and semi-skilled labour, it falls short of a na­tional-level struc­ture to pro­mote and reg­u­late vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion. Ed­u­ca­tion doesn’t end when you grad­u­ate. It’s a con­tin­ual and life­long process. That Qatar recog­nises this is ev­i­denced by the sev­eral ex­ec­u­tive and niche cour­ses for pro­fes­sion­als that are avail­able here – namely by HEC Paris, Qatar Lead­er­ship Cen­tre, Josoor In­sti­tute and more. By all ac­counts, it has been a good year for the sec­tor and the mo­men­tum gained prom­ises many more such years

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