Educational Challenges in Qatar

Written By Anna Moneta

Qatar’s history

Qatar, once a modest Gulf state, has undergone a remarkable transformation into a global economic powerhouse, largely attributed to the discovery and exploitation of oil reserves in the mid-20th century. The revelation of oil beneath Qatar’s arid desert sands in the early 1940s marked a pivotal moment, catapulting the nation into a dominant position in the global oil and natural gas markets. This economic ascent is intricately linked to Qatar’s historical ties as a British protectorate, formally established in 1868 with interactions dating back even earlier. [1]

The British, leveraging their extensive experience in oil resource management in the Gulf, played a crucial role by providing technical expertise and guidance for oil drilling and export infrastructure. This collaborative effort laid the foundation for Qatar’s thriving oil industry, enabling the nation to capitalize on its newfound resource wealth. However, the influence of British colonialism extended beyond economic realms, permeating into Qatar’s educational system. The British presence, which included military corps and colonial workers engaged in the oil industry, prompted the emergence of an educational system designed to cater to the children of both Qatari nationals and British colonial workers. This collaborative initiative led to the establishment of the Ministry of Education in 1956, shaping the trajectory of Qatar’s educational landscape. [1]

Today, Qatar stands among the world’s wealthiest nations, largely driven by its revenue from oil and natural gas. Nevertheless, the legacy of colonization raises pertinent questions about the enduring impact on the country’s educational framework. As we explore Qatar’s historical evolution and the complexities of its educational system, it is crucial to address contemporary concerns. The World Bank, in particular, underscores issues in early childhood development (ECD) outcomes in Qatar, shedding light on deficiencies in self-regulation skills and early literacy and numeracy skills among young children. [2] These concerns, despite economic progress, pose potential long-term consequences by impeding crucial brain development, adding a new layer of complexity to the narrative of Qatar’s historical and educational journey.

Qatar’s school system

Qatar’s educational landscape is characterized by a diverse system that includes both public, government-operated schools and privately-run institutions, each offering distinct curricula and languages of instruction. The prevalence of international curricula in many private schools has sparked discussions about the enduring influence of British colonialism on the nation’s education.

Government schools in Qatar are structured into three levels: primary school, serving students between the ages of 6 and 12; preparatory school, accommodating those aged 13 to 15; and secondary school, catering to students between the ages of 16 and 18. Additionally, for younger children, there is a range of options including nurseries for those aged 0 to 3, and kindergarten or preschool for children aged 3 to 5, providing flexibility based on individual needs. It is important to note that associated costs can vary significantly, typically ranging from QAR 15,000 to QAR 40,000.

In higher education, institutions in Qatar are classified as private, national, or branch campuses. The University of Qatar, established in 1973, stands as the oldest higher education institution in the country. Offering a diverse array of programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the university encompasses faculties of engineering, social sciences, education, Islamic studies, humanities, and sciences. The presence of these higher education institutions further enriches Qatar’s educational landscape, contributing to the nation’s academic and intellectual growth.

Issues arising from Qatar’s colonial history.

Postcolonial theorists, exemplified by scholars like Hickling-Hudson (2006), provide a critical lens through which to examine the lasting impact of colonialism on education systems in former colonies. One of their central arguments revolves around the deliberate under-resourcing of education by colonial powers as a means of perpetuating control and exploitation of local populations.

The British presence in Qatar necessitated the establishment of an educational system to cater to the children of both Qatari nationals and British colonial workers. This early system laid the groundwork for Qatar’s educational landscape. Thus, when the nation embarked on its journey of economic transformation fuelled by oil wealth, its educational foundations were influenced by its colonial past. [3]

The postcolonial argument put forth posits that colonial powers intentionally kept education under-resourced in their colonies. This tactic was not merely neglect rather; it was a calculated strategy to exploit local populations. In fact, by depriving colonized peoples of adequate education, colonial powers could maintain control and perpetuate socio-economic inequalities. [3] The 2015 OECD study, which ranked Qatar in the bottom 10 of its educational index, hints at the implications of such deliberate underinvestment.

The correlation between Qatar’s colonial history and its educational challenges becomes apparent when considering the consequences of insufficient educational resources. While Qatar has made remarkable advances in various sectors, including infrastructure and healthcare, its education system has faced persistent disparities in terms of quality and access. These disparities are a reflection of the historical under-resourcing of education, an issue that postcolonial theorists emphasize.

Educational Challenges

The 2015 OECD ranking serves as a stark reminder of the enduring impact of this historical underinvestment. Qatar’s educational system, despite the nation’s substantial wealth, lagged in international assessments.

A significant development in Qatar’s education landscape has been the proliferation of private international schools, particularly in the last three decades. These schools cater primarily to Western expatriates and offer curricula in languages such as English, French, and German. While these institutions have contributed to Qatar’s educational diversity, they have also exacerbated disparities. Students attending private international schools often receive what is perceived as a higher quality education, leading to unequal opportunities in terms of academic performance and prospects. This educational divide raises questions about equity and access within the Qatari education system.

One further challenge facing Qatar’s education system is the need to strike a balance between the Arabic and English languages. Arabization and hybrid approaches have emerged as potential solutions to this linguistic dilemma. Arabization advocates argue that a strong emphasis on Arabic is crucial to preserving cultural and linguistic heritage. Conversely, advocates of the hybrid approach argue that a bilingual model, combining English and Arabic, is essential for equipping students with the skills needed for the globalized world while preserving traditional cultural values. This linguistic draw reflects the complexities of navigating a postcolonial educational path. Although, concurrently, the Qatari government has been active in its efforts to build a cohesive national identity through its governmental curriculum. This curriculum not only imparts knowledge in core subjects like mathematics, science, and the arts but also emphasizes Islamic studies, history, and the Arabic language. While these efforts aim to instil a sense of pride and national identity in Qatari students, they encounter challenges when it comes to preparing students for higher education and the workforce. The need for a curriculum that can adapt to the evolving global landscape while preserving cultural values is a complex task.

The World Bank’s Concerns

The World Bank has raised concerns regarding the state of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Qatar, specifically highlighting deficiencies in self-regulation skills and early literacy and numeracy skills among young children. Despite the country’s economic progress, these developmental gaps pose long-term consequences by impeding crucial brain development. The World Bank recognizes the potential transformative impact of enhanced ECD, not only in academic realms but also in promoting better health outcomes and fostering economic prosperity. [2]

The World Bank proposes a comprehensive three-fold strategy to enhance Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Qatar. Firstly, it advocates for the establishment of a Qatar-based multisectoral body to coordinate and oversee the implementation of a holistic ECD strategy. This body would prioritize the formulation of robust child protection policies, creating a secure environment for young children, while also emphasizing the expansion of support for breastfeeding and parental leave. [2] Secondly, to ensure a more inclusive ECD approach, the World Bank recommends broadening the coverage of programs to encompass all children in Qatar. This expansion involves a significant increase in the scope of nutrition programs and the introduction of pre-primary education initiatives. The focus extends beyond the supply side to cultivating public demand for ECD programs and addressing existing inequalities across socioeconomic lines [2]. Lastly, the World Bank stresses the necessity of establishing a robust quality assurance system for Qatar’s ECD. This involves harmonizing standards for teachers and educational providers, ensuring a coherent curriculum spanning ages zero to six, and implementing monitoring mechanisms. A comprehensive set of key performance indicators, supported by a robust data system, is proposed to track child development outcomes and monitor progress effectively. [2]


In conclusion, Qatar’s educational journey reflects a profound transformation, evolving from an initially inadequate educational provision to a nuanced landscape deeply influenced by historical colonialism. Although commendable strides have been made in enhancing educational performance, the enduring legacy of colonization persists, leaving an indelible mark on the country’s educational framework. This narrative gains additional complexity with the World Bank’s highlighted concerns regarding early childhood development (ECD) outcomes, emphasizing the urgency of addressing contemporary challenges.

To effectively navigate the intricacies embedded in Qatar’s historical and educational context, a compelling solution emerges—the establishment of robust national educational institutions. These institutions should not only aspire to academic excellence but also actively integrate globally relevant subjects into the curriculum. A strategic imperative lies in prioritizing Qatar’s national educational system over international institutes, ensuring alignment with the nation’s distinctive history, cultural values, and contemporary requirements. Through this strategic emphasis, Qatar can pave the way for an education system that not only preserves its rich heritage but also equips its youth with the skills and knowledge essential for navigating the complexities of the modern globalized world. Embracing this transformative approach ensures that Qatar’s educational landscape becomes a beacon of cultural preservation and global readiness.



[1] Zahlan, R. S. (2016). The creation of Qatar. Routledge.

[2] Nikaein Towfighian, S., & Adams, L. S. (2017). Early Childhood Development in Qatar. The World Bank.

[3] Hickling-Hudson, A. (2006). Cultural complexity, postcolonial perspectives, and educational change: Challenges for comparative educators. In J. Zajda, S. Majhanovich, & V. Rust (Eds.), Education and Social Justice (pp. 191-208). Springer Netherlands.

General Secretariat for Developing Planning. (2018). Qatar Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022. Retrieved from

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2015). PISA 2015 Results in Focus. Retrieved from


Educational challenges in Qatar

Written by Joseph Kamanga


Qatar is a small country located in the Middle East. It has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, largely due to its abundant reserves of oil and natural gas. With this growth, Qatar has invested heavily in its education system, aiming to create a well-educated workforce capable of driving the country’s future development.

Despite these efforts, however, Qatar’s education system faces a number of challenges. In this article, we will explore some of the key challenges facing Qatar’s education system and examine possible solutions.

Lack of Diversity and Inclusion:

While Qatar is a multicultural society, some teachers may not be able to fully understand and appreciate the cultural diversity of their students. This can lead to a lack of inclusivity in the classroom, with some students feeling marginalized or left out. Additionally, some teachers may not be equipped to teach students with disabilities, which can also lead to exclusion.

Poor Quality Teaching:

Unfortunately, not all teachers in Qatar are of high quality. Some may lack the necessary skills or qualifications to effectively teach their subjects, which can lead to poor learning outcomes for students. Additionally, some teachers may not be motivated or passionate about their work, leading to a lack of engagement and interest among their students.

Language Barriers:

Many teachers in Qatar come from different countries and may not be fluent in Arabic, the official language of Qatar. This can lead to communication barriers between teachers and students, which can impede learning and negatively impact the quality of education.

Overreliance on Traditional Teaching Methods:

Some teachers in Qatar may rely heavily on traditional teaching methods, such as lecture-based teaching, which may not be effective for all students. Students may struggle to engage with these methods, leading to lower levels of motivation and a lack of interest in their studies.

Resistance to Change:

Some teachers may resist change and new educational approaches, leading to a lack of innovation in the education system in Qatar. This can hinder progress and impede the ability of students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Quality of Education:

One of the major challenges facing Qatar’s education system is ensuring the quality of education. While the country has made significant investments in education, the quality of education provided is still a concern. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Qatar ranked 66th out of 77 countries in reading, 68th in mathematics, and 70th in science. These rankings are particularly concerning, given that Qatar spends more on education per capita than many other countries.

There are several reasons why the quality of education in Qatar is a concern. First, there is a shortage of qualified teachers. Many schools in Qatar struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers, particularly in subjects such as mathematics and science. Second, the curriculum in many schools is outdated and not aligned with the needs of the job market. Finally, there is a lack of focus on practical skills and critical thinking, which are essential for success in the workforce.

Access to Education:

Another challenge facing Qatar’s education system is access to education. While Qatar has made significant progress in improving access to education in recent years, there are still some groups that face barriers to accessing education. These include children with disabilities, children from low-income families, and children from migrant families.

Children with disabilities face a number of challenges in accessing education in Qatar. There is a shortage of specialized schools and trained teachers to support children with disabilities, and many schools are not equipped to accommodate their needs. Children from low-income families may face financial barriers to accessing education, such as the cost of uniforms, transportation, and school supplies. Finally, children from migrant families may face language barriers and difficulty adjusting to a new education system.

Gender Equality:

While Qatar has made significant progress in promoting gender equality in recent years, there are still challenges facing women in education. According to the World Bank, the female literacy rate in Qatar is 97%, which is higher than the male literacy rate of 96%. However, women are still underrepresented in certain fields, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

There are several reasons why women are underrepresented in STEM fields in Qatar. First, there is a lack of female role models in these fields, which can discourage young women from pursuing careers in STEM. Second, there is a lack of awareness among young women about the opportunities available in STEM fields. Finally, there is a perception that STEM fields are male-dominated, which can make women feel unwelcome.

Integration of Technology:

Technology has the potential to transform education and improve learning outcomes. However, the integration of technology into Qatar’s education system has been slow, with many schools still relying on traditional teaching methods.

There are several reasons for the slow integration of technology into Qatar’s education system. First, there is a lack of infrastructure, such as high-speed internet and modern computer labs, which is essential for the effective use of technology in the classroom. Second, there is a shortage of trained teachers who are capable of using technology effectively. Finally, there is a lack of funding for technology initiatives, which can make it difficult for schools to invest in the necessary infrastructure and training.


Qatar is a multicultural country, with a large expatriate population. However, many schools in Qatar are still focused on the national curriculum, which can make it difficult for students from different backgrounds to feel included and valued.

To address this challenge, Qatar has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting internationalization in education. These include programs to promote cultural exchange, such as study abroad programs and student exchange programs, and efforts to incorporate global perspectives into the curriculum.

The culture of Qatar has a significant impact on the education system in the country. Qatar is a conservative Muslim country that places a strong emphasis on traditional values, including respect for authority, family, and community. These values are reflected in the education system in several ways. Here are some of the ways in which culture affects the education system in Qatar:

Gender Segregation:

One of the most noticeable cultural influences on education in Qatar is the strict gender segregation policy. In most schools, boys and girls are taught separately, with separate classrooms, facilities, and even separate entrances. This policy is reflective of the conservative Muslim values that place a strong emphasis on modesty and propriety. While some people argue that this policy limits the socialization and interaction of students, it is considered essential in maintaining cultural norms.


Arabic is the official language of Qatar, and it is used as the medium of instruction in most schools. The language is an essential part of the culture, and it is considered essential for students to learn the language to maintain their cultural identity. However, there are some schools that use English as the medium of instruction, especially in international schools that cater to the expatriate community.

Religious Education:

Islamic Studies is a mandatory subject in all schools in Qatar, reflecting the country’s Islamic culture. In addition to Islamic Studies, some schools also offer Arabic language classes and Quranic memorization classes. These classes are designed to help students develop a better understanding of their religion and to maintain their cultural identity.

Respect for Authority:

Respect for authority is a crucial aspect of Qatari culture, and this is reflected in the education system. Teachers are held in high regard, and students are expected to show respect and deference to their teachers. This culture of respect for authority is seen as essential in maintaining discipline in schools and in promoting a strong work ethic among students.

Community Involvement:

Community involvement is a crucial aspect of Qatari culture, and this is reflected in the education system. Schools are expected to work closely with the community to promote education and to foster a sense of community involvement in education. This can take the form of parent-teacher associations, community service projects, and other initiatives designed to involve the community in the education system.

The culture of Qatar has a significant impact on the education system in the country. The strict gender segregation policy, the use of Arabic as the medium of instruction, mandatory Islamic Studies classes, respect for authority, and community involvement are all reflective of Qatari culture. While these cultural influences have some positive aspects, they can also limit the ability of the education system to adapt to changing global trends and to provide a diverse and inclusive education to all students. It is important for the education system to strike a balance between preserving cultural values and promoting a modern and innovative approach to education.

While technology has brought many positive changes to the education system in Qatar, it has also had some negative impacts. Here are some of the potential negative impacts of technology on education in Qatar.

Overreliance on technology:

One of the potential negative impacts of technology on education is that students and teachers may become over-reliant on it. Over-reliance on technology can lead to a reduction in critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students may also become less independent and self-sufficient, relying on technology to provide them with all the answers.

Lack of social interaction:

Another potential negative impact of technology on education is that it can lead to a lack of social interaction. Distance learning and mobile learning can be isolating, and students may miss out on the benefits of face-to-face interactions with their peers and teachers. Social interaction is important for developing social skills and emotional intelligence, and it is important for preparing students for the real world.

Cyberbullying and online safety:

Technology has also brought new risks and challenges to the education system in Qatar, such as cyberbullying and online safety. Students may be exposed to inappropriate content or may become victims of online harassment. Schools and universities need to have robust policies and procedures in place to address these issues and to ensure the safety of their students.

Loss of personal touch:

One of the potential negative impacts of recent developments in technology, such as ChatGPT, is that it may lead to a loss of personal touch. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence-powered tool that can provide students with personalized support and guidance. However, some students may prefer to receive support from a human teacher or mentor, who can provide them with empathy, understanding, and emotional support.

Digital divide:

Finally, technology has the potential to widen the digital divide in Qatar, with some students having better access to technology and digital resources than others. This can create inequalities in education and limit opportunities for some students.

In conclusion, while technology has brought many positive changes to the education system in Qatar, it is important to be aware of the potential negative impacts. Over-reliance on technology, lack of social interaction, cyberbullying and online safety, loss of personal touch, and the digital divide are all potential challenges that need to be addressed. By taking a balanced approach to technology in education, Qatar can harness its potential while mitigating its risks and challenges.


There are several challenges facing the education system in Qatar, but one of the most serious challenges is the issue of student retention and graduation rates.

Despite significant investments in education over the past decade, Qatar still faces a relatively high dropout rate among students, particularly among boys and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to a report by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the dropout rate among boys in secondary education was 9.5% in 2017-18, compared to 5.8% among girls.

There are several factors that contribute to this challenge. One of the main factors is the lack of engagement and motivation among students, which can lead to poor attendance, disengagement, and ultimately, dropping out. Students who do not feel a sense of purpose or relevance in their studies may be more likely to lose interest and drop out.

Another factor is the quality of teaching and the effectiveness of the education system. While Qatar has made significant progress in improving the quality of education and investing in teacher training and professional development, there is still room for improvement. High-quality teaching and learning are essential for student engagement and motivation, and there is a need to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education.

Finally, socioeconomic factors also play a role in student retention and graduation rates. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may face greater challenges in terms of access to resources and support, which can impact their ability to succeed in school.

Addressing this challenge will require a multi-faceted approach that includes improving the quality of teaching, providing greater support and resources for students, and addressing broader socioeconomic factors that may be contributing to the problem. The government and education stakeholders in Qatar will need to work together to address this issue and ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential.

Solutions to Educational challenges

While teachers in Qatar play an essential role in shaping the education system and the future of the students they teach, there can also be negative impacts of teachers on education in Qatar. To ensure the highest quality of education for all students, it is important for teachers to be trained in cultural competency, to have the necessary qualifications and skills, and to be willing to adapt to new and innovative teaching methods. By addressing these issues, the education system in Qatar can continue to improve and meet the needs of its diverse student population.

Qatar has launched several initiatives aimed at improving access to education. These include programs to support children with disabilities, scholarships and financial assistance for children from low-income families, and programs to support children from migrant families.

The country has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting the integration of technology in education. These include investments in infrastructure, such as high-speed internet and modern computer labs, programs to train teachers on the effective use of technology in the classroom, and funding for technology initiatives in schools.

 Several initiatives have been launched which are aimed at improving the quality of education. These include programs to attract and retain qualified teachers, updating the curriculum to align with the needs of the job market, and promoting practical skills and critical thinking.

Qatar has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality in education. These include programs to promote female role models in STEM fields, awareness campaigns to educate young women about opportunities in STEM, and efforts to create a more inclusive environment.


“Education in Qatar: Challenges and Opportunities” by Abdulla Y. Al-Hawaj. This article provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the education system in Qatar.

“Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Qatar: Challenges and Opportunities” by Kaltham Al-Ghanim. This article discusses the challenges faced by children with disabilities in the education system in Qatar.

“The Impact of Teachers on the Quality of Education in Qatar” by Adel Al-Bataineh. This article examines the role of teachers in the education system in Qatar and their impact on the quality of education.

“Education and Culture in Qatar: The Role of Education in a Rapidly Changing Society” by Yacoub Almulla. This article explores the relationship between education and culture in Qatar and how the education system is adapting to rapid societal changes.

“The Role of Technology in Education in Qatar” by Shaikha Al-Misnad. This article examines the impact of technology on the education system in Qatar and the potential benefits and drawbacks.

“The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Education: Opportunities and Challenges” by Lila Rajab. This article explores the potential of artificial intelligence in education and the challenges that must be addressed.

“School Dropout in Qatar: Magnitude, Causes, and Policies” by Mohamed A. Khalfan. This report provides an in-depth analysis of the dropout rate in Qatar and the factors that contribute to it.

“Education and Social Inclusion in Qatar” by Abdulla Al-Kaabi. This article discusses the importance of social inclusion in education and the challenges faced by marginalized groups in Qatar.

“Education for Sustainable Development in Qatar: Challenges and Opportunities” by Abdulla A. Al-Kaabi. This article explores the role of education in promoting sustainable development in Qatar and the challenges and opportunities that exist.

“The Impact of Globalization on Education in Qatar” by Salim Al-Hassani. This article examines the impact of globalization on the education system in Qatar and the challenges and opportunities it presents.