DOHA: The Supreme Education Council (SEC) has approved a slight increase in fees — up to four percent — for several private schools during the forthcoming academic year, a senior official has said.
About 70 percent of the requests seeking fee hike have been rejected because the schools failed to cite satisfactory reasons, according to Hamad Al Ghali, Director of the Private Schools Office at SEC. The SEC has given initial approval to set up 90 new private schools and of this, licensing of 26 schools is currently under process, he said.
“Recently we implemented a new policy linking the fee hike with the quality and financial status of the school. This assessment will be based on data provided by the schools. The objective of this policy is to support the schools to cover their expenses while at the same time controlling the fees to protect the interests of the parents,” said Al Ghali, in an interview with a local Arabic daily published yesterday.
“When increasing the fees we take into account the inflation rate in the country. Under the new system, we have approved fee increase ranging from 1.5 to 4 percent according to the financial needs and the new standards,” he added. He said a number of schools had sought permission to hike the fees but their requests were not approved.
“Seventy percent of the applications were rejected because the schools failed to provide the required documents to prove that they are incurring losses or they have upgraded their facilities,” said Al Ghali. He said the SEC had received 90 applications to set up new private schools.
“We gave them initial approval to make the necessary preparations from January to July 1 this year. Of the total applicants 26 managed to meet all requirements and their licensing is under process,” said the official. The new schools include some international schools as well. A Chinese school will be opened during the 2015-2016 academic year.
“We are considering a proper geographical distribution of private schools. In the coming year there will be one international school each in Al Wakra and Al Shamal,” he added.
Asked about complaints regarding the low salary of private school teachers, the official said, as per contracts approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, some schools are offering a monthly salary of QR6,000, without allowances.
“One of the factors that forces us to approve requests for fee increases is to enable the schools to increase teachers’ salaries,” said Al Ghali.
He said all private schools have been getting support from the SEC.
They are not paying for electricity and water. The government also allots land to private schools to build premises when they complete two years.
Asked about “additional fees” imposed by some schools, he said there is nothing called additional fees.
“There are stationary fees of QR150 to QR200. It is the responsibility of the schools to provide services like photocopy (at no extra cost),” he added.
He said each school has a fixed capacity of students and they are not permitted to enrol students beyond the permitted level.
The official said the SEC is studying the possibility of expanding the school voucher programme to more private schools.
Currently, 57 schools are included in the programme that provides financial support to Qatari students to study in private schools.
There are 18 private schools in Qatar teaching the Qatari curriculum.
The official said a new law governing private schools will be issued soon.