DOHA: The severe shortage of seats in some private schools, especially Indian schools, seems to be reflecting negatively on recruitments, say industry sources.
Many professionals who have been offered lucrative jobs in Qatar are said to be turning them down because they cannot find a seat for their children in a suitable private school.
Also, newly arrived professionals are apparently in a dilemma whether to continue in their jobs or quit since they are unable to bring their families here for the same reason.
Indian families remain the worst-hit, after most of the Indian schools stopped new admissions due to a severe seats crunch. A new regulation of the Supreme Education Council (SEC) putting a cap on the maximum number of students each private school can admit has led to the current crisis.
An official working with the recruitment section of a leading petroleum company told this daily yesterday that recently he had come across at least two cases in which two Indian engineers refused to accept job offers from the company because they couldn’t secure a seat for their children in any of the nearly-a-dozen Indian schools in Qatar.
“They wanted to come along with their families but when they found that their children would not get admission in an Indian school here, they refused the job offer,” he said.
He said, on a daily basis, his section was getting a number of inquiries from job seekers related to school admissions.
“Many professionals are ready to come if we ensure them a seat in an Indian school here but we are not in a position to do that,” he added.
Indian school sources say that the issue has already been raised with the SEC and the latter has promised to find a solution. These schools, which started their new academic year in April, have a long waiting list of new applicants but could admit none or very few.
The Private Schools Office at SEC last week held a meeting of Indian school officials, in the presence of representatives from the Indian embassy to discuss the issue. “The SEC officials have promised to look into the issue and told us that no student should be left without education,” said the principal of an Indian school present at the meeting.
The officials, however, have not explained what specific measures they would be taking to address the issue, he added.
He said applications from about 1,200 students are still pending with his school.
About 25 to 30 percent of the applicants are new students while the remaining are those who want to change schools.
School admission is not an issue limited to Indian expatriates, say academic sources. The problem is caused by a severe shortage of private schools in the country. There are about 130 private schools and 70 private kindergartens in Qatar, which are inadequate to meet the requirements of the rapidly growing expatriate population, they say.
According to recent data released by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, the expatriate labour force in Qatar has grown to 1.45 million. At least a quarter of them fall in the high-income bracket, although accurate data is not available.
The rising cost of education coupled with the shortage of Arab community schools has forced several Arab expatriates, especially from Lebanon, to leave their families behind, say the sources.
An Egyptian academic told this daily recently that a large number of Egyptian families were forced to teach their children at home because there were only two schools in Qatar offering the Egyptian curriculum. After taking their lessons at home these children sit for national examinations at their embassy here.
As a solution to the admission crisis, some parents have urged the SEC to relax rules regarding student numbers.
“The schools should be given ample time to expand their facilities. The authorities should relax the rules, allowing them to admit at least 35 students per class for another two years,” said a concerned Indian parent.