DOHA: Some citizens, led by a noted Qatari columnist have launched a campaign on the social media against what they call the wrong policies of the Supreme Education Council (SEC), the regulatory body for Independent and private schools.
The campaign titled “First of October, I will stand up” is calling on students, parents and teachers not to go to school on October 1 as a show of protest.
The message has gone viral on social media, especially Twitter, with people expressing mixed views.
“The situation is so bad. Public education is the worst. Our children are the victims,” read a comment. Some commentators have disagreed with the call to abstain from classes on October 1 saying this will not help solve the problem. “This will only make the children happy,” wrote one.
Some suggested the formation of a committee comprising teachers and school administrators which should take up all the issues with the Minister of Education.
Some others wanted to go back to the old system of education claiming that the reforms have caused confusion and damaged the cultural identity. There was another segment expressing solidarity with the Independent schoolteachers saying they are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the “failed policies” of the SEC.
Faisal Al Marzooqi, the Qatari columnist who is spearheading the campaign tweeted that a list of demands and complaints will be released next Sunday.
What drew the wrath of many citizens was the SEC’s decision allowing some private schools to impose higher fees on their Qatari students, compared to non-Qataris. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the SEC had defended this decision saying the Qatari students will not be affected since their fees are paid through educational vouchers.
Many commentators, who apparently were not convinced by this explanation, wondered why public funds should be wasted to promote private schools that are not non-profit institutions.
They felt that there is no justification for differentiating between Qatari and non-Qatari students, in terms of fees, in the same school that are providing the same services and facilities to both segments.
“If this is done to expatriates, they will take up the issue with the human rights committee. Then why are the citizens discriminated against,” asked a commentator.
The SEC’s statement that students’ academic performance will be one of the criteria for approving fee hike requests from private schools in the coming years has also failed to convince many people.
“How do we know whether the fees reflect the academic achievements?,” asked a commentator.
Some local Arabic dailies yesterday carried reactions of several prominent Qataris who were vehemently critical of the “discrepancies” in the fee hike imposed by several private schools.
They claimed that different schools have been allowed to hike fees in different amounts without any convincing reasons and called for unified standards and criteria.