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DOHA: The revised licensing rules of the Supreme Education Council (SEC) have made it mandatory for private schools to reserve at least 25 percent of their seats for Qatari students.
This is one of the many conditions for obtaining a licence for a new school. The rule, however, does not apply to the “community schools.” The SEC will start receiving applications to open new private schools from Sunday. Applications may be submitted until the end of December.
“The Qatari Students should not be less than 25 percent of the total number of students in the school, except for community schools,” says a document about the licensing rules posted on the SEC website. This has been mentioned among the “general conditions” for obtaining a licence.
This is arguably the first time the SEC is fixing a mandatory target for private schools for enrolling Qatari students and many have doubts how this could be effectively implemented.
“The categorization of schools has always been problematic. The term community school is not clearly defined. If the rule applies to only international schools, the SEC must say it clearly,” said a Qatari citizen.
“To achieve this 25 percent target, many Qatari students from Independent schools will have to be moved to private schools. If a school does not find enough Qatari applicants, how would it meet this requirement? And how can this be made a pre-condition for obtaining a licence?,” he wondered.
According to the regulations, the school seeking a licence must also implement the “Qatari curriculum standards or accredited international curriculum standards.”
Schools that implement accredited international curriculum standards should allocate weekly hours to teach Arabic language and Islamic studies to Muslim students in the school and Qatari history to all students according to national standards.
The school building must be far from shops and public, industrial and commercial areas that affect the educational mission of the school. It must fully comply with the security, safety and health requirements, and meet regulations of the Civil Defence Department.
The school should provide enough water coolers, that should be properly maintained and kept away from the toilets. The school toilets should be adequate and built according to the regulations, and should be well-ventilated and far from classrooms.
The school should have furniture and equipment necessary to facilitate learning and teaching suitable for the ages of the students, in addition to writing boards, teaching tools, monitors, electronic and computer devices, as well as computer and science laboratories, sport facilities and a cafeteria that complies with the health requirements.