Govt moves to address school crunch

June 10, 2014 - 4:50:08 am

DOHA: In a first in the region, the government yesterday announced a major financing initiative for investors and businessmen to enter the education sector in a big way.

The idea, apparently, is to address the acute shortage of private schools in the country amid a booming economy and a heavy influx of expatriate families.

Long-term state financing for up to 70 percent of a school project’s cost will be made available for 15 years at an annual interest rate of three to four percent.

A one-time management fee of one percent (of the project cost) will be levied on the beneficiaries of the unique education sector loan scheme.

Loans will also be available for expansion and renovation of existing private schools so they can accommodate more students.

Managements facing financial hardships can also approach the government for financing for school furnishings and buying equipment, including vehicles for the school’s use.

Under the government’s initiative, financing will be available for all types of school projects, starting from preschools to primary and secondary schools. Even university projects would be considered. 

State-owned Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the school regulator, the Supreme Education Council (SEC), yesterday jointly announced the unique financing scheme.

They said in a statement that QDB will offer direct loans for the private sector for education projects, including for construction of schools.

Financing will be made available at competitive rates for a 15-year-period, which will include a grace period of three years, a release said.

It is, however, not known if privately-run expatriate community schools will also be entitled to these loans.

The CEO of QDB, Abdul Aziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, said in the release that the initiative acknowledges how significant the education sector is to the country’s overall development plans.

A committee has been set up with members from QDB, the Ministry of Higher Education and the SEC to study loan requests for approval.

To apply for a loan to construct a new school, a written application needs to be made to the SEC, accompanied by a feasibility study reviewed by specialist consultants.

And for a loan for renovation, expansion, furnishing or to purchase of equipment and vehicles, a school must provide audited bank statements for the past three years.

Owners and their deputies must also enclose with the loan applications copies of their ID cards and the design of the new project or of the existing school. 

For buying equipment and vehicles, the list of items to be bought must be supplied, said the release.