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A view of Doha Academy in Mauritius.
by Satish Kanady
Curepipe, Mauritius: After reaching out to Asia, Qatar is increasingly focusing on an island nation off the south east coast of Africa to help increase its young generation’s access to quality education. Ten years after the Mauritius-based NGO launched an academy in the middle of the island with support from Qatar, it is set to launch another Qatari-funded project in the country by this year end.
It was in 1996 that the Islamic Consultative Council, the Mauritius-based NGO, approached some Gulf countries seeking support for the launch of an innovative educational project in the island. Qatar was the first country that came forward to support the project.
“Initially, when we approached Qatar, the authorities didn’t have any idea where Mauritius is. They even asked us where the country is located. As advised by the Qatari authorities, Mauritius former president Cassam Uteem wrote a formal letter to the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani seeking his support to the cause. To our surprise Qatar readily agreed to fully fund our project; and to mark our gratitude to Qatar we named our project as ‘Doha Academy’,” Yousouf Joomun, the Doha Academy’s Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Office told The Peninsula in an interview.
A huge plaque on the imposing Academy structure in Curepipe, 17km away from Mauritius capital Port Louis, reads: “Doha Secondary School is a gift from the people of Qatar during the reign of H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar. This foundation stone was laid by (the Heir Apparent) H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatar National Olympic Committee, in the presence of Cassam Uteen, (former) President of Republic of Mauritius.”
The Academy’s secondary school began functioning in 2003 with less than 100 students. Now the total number of students has gone up to 1,500. Located in sprawling seven acres land, the Academy is opened to all Mauritian students irrespective of religion and has separate blocks for girls and boys. The academy has been ranked as one of the ten best schools in the country last year.
With 65 class rooms, state-of-the-art labs, library, canteen, prayer rooms and audio-visual and multimedia rooms, the Doha Academy has been ranked as one of the ten best schools in Mauritius last year.
Buoyed by the success of the school, Doha Academy is set to launch its second project in the southern part of the island. Qatar has agreed to fully fund this project too. The foundation stone for the new project would be laid after the Holy Month of Ramadan, Joomun said.