DOHA: Several Qatari parents attending an open session on education hosted by the Supreme Education Council (SEC) on Monday called for bringing private education directly under the supervision of the minister of education.
All private schools in the country are currently regulated by the Private Schools Office at the SEC.
The parents also called on the government to give more support and facilities to private education, considering it a key partner in the education process. Some, however, cautioned against dilution of the cultural identity of students due to less emphasis on Arabic language teaching in schools.
The open forum, attended by the Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, heard views and suggestions from parents, teachers, school officials and academics about problems and challenges facing the education sector in Qatar. This was the first such session after the Prime Minister took over as chairman of the SEC.
Addressing the forum, the Prime Minister urged the SEC to keep all communication channels open to get feedback from the public and listen to people’s complaints and suggestions.
“This meeting is for listening to your complaints, concerns and aspirations. I call upon the SEC to leave all communication channels open to everyone who has an opinion or a complaint, and take the necessary measures to solve the issues,” said the Prime Minister.
He added that similar meetings will be held on a regular basis.
The Minister of Education and Higher Education,
H E Mohammed Abdul Wahed Ali Al Hammadi, said the Prime Minister had ordered seeking peoples’ suggestions and complaints related to education through an online survey being conducted on the SEC’s website.
“More than 1,300 people participated in the opinion poll in less than a week. This is used as a means of dialogue with people on education issues,” said the minister.
A number of issues concerning Independent schools, private schools and universities were raised during the meeting.
Many participants called for reforms in Independent schools to meet the aspirations of the people. They felt that there must be a clear strategy for education, especially regarding Arabic language and religious studies.
Many teachers and school operators recommended that no distinction be made between Independent and private schools. Families should be more concerned about the quality of education.
Many speakers were critical of the SEC, saying it had become part of the problem, instead of solving problems, Al Arab daily reported yesterday.
Some others asked for a common policy for all universities and colleges and more coordination between them. Some felt that there is an overlapping of powers between Education Institute and Evaluation Institute at SEC.
Some participants called for a strict policy to differentiate students performing well and those not efficient.
The initial findings of SEC’s online survey were presented at the meeting. The survey asked two questions: What are the challenges facing education currently? What are the priority areas for the coming period?
The main challenges identified by respondents were shortage of Qatari teachers, insufficient financial incentives, long working hours, school transportation, lack of motivation for students, problems related to e-Education, and weak participation of parents and guardians in the education process.
The priorities included giving more importance to Arabic language, involving families in education process, development of citizens’ skills and the curriculum and more focus on student discipline.
About 150 people attended the session, including the Minister of Energy and Industry H E Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, the Minister of Economy and Commerce H E Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs H E Dr Abdullah bin Saleh Al Khulaifi, the Minister of Development Planning and Statistics H E Dr Saleh Mohammed Salim Al Nabit, the President of Qatar University Sheikha bint Abdullah Al Missned and senior SEC officials. The Peninsula