By Ayman Adly Staff Reporter
*New schools to provide 8,000 additional seats in 2 years
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education signed on Wednesday six contracts to lease government land for the construction and operation of six private schools in the country.
The contracts were signed with the six national companies that won the tenders that had been offered by the Technical Committee to Stimulate Private Sector Participation in Economic Development Projects that pertain to the Ministerial Group to Stimulate Private Sector Participation in Economic Development Projects headed by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani.
Mohamed Melfi al-Hajri, Director of Joint Services Department at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, signed the contracts on behalf of HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Mohamed Abdulwahid al-Hammadi. The companies that won the bids are Taallum Group, Doha British School, Al Sraiya Trading and Contracting (ASTC) British School of Qatar, Sharaka Holdings Sherborne Qatar School for Girls, Dar Al Salam Education Company, and Kings College Doha.
Speaking on behalf of HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education, al-Hajri said private sector is a partner of the educational system in Qatar. Accordingly, the country has provided many incentives to encourage the private sector to invest in education, including customs exception, free water and electricity, land and school buildings, educational coupons for Qatari students and other benefits. This would eventually lead towards reduced private school fees, he opined.
He stressed that the Ministry of Education and Higher Education will continue its efforts to advance private education in the country through the implementation of the Ministry's plan for 2017- 2022 aimed at building a high quality education system at an international level that enhances the values of the Qatari society and calls for tolerance and the respect of other cultures.
He said that the private education sector in the country comprises 281 private schools and kindergartens teaching 25 different curricula, catering to 190,644 students from different nationalities. These schools employ 11,269 teachers from various nationalities with investors from different parts of the world.
Speaking on the sidelines, Tariq Abdullah al-Abdullah, advisor to HE the Minister of Education and Higher for Private Schools Affairs, pointed out that the new six schools would cover the educational stages from kindergarten to Class 12 (pre-university). " They also provide parents with diversified educational options as five of them follow the British curriculum and one the Indian curriculum. When accomplished, the new schools are expected to provide more than 8,000 seats to meet the increasing demand for private education in the country."
He said the new schools are expected to be functional in two years from the date of signing of the contracts. The population density in the country was taken into consideration for the allocation of the plots for these schools.
The official said the Ministry was very keen that the new schools offer modern educational experiences through high quality facilities that also focus on the safety and security of students.
Al-Abdallah said the Ministry is well-aware of the high demand for seats in private and community schools, especially the Indian community , and works seriously to resolve the issue by providing more support through offering potential investors low cost land for building schools. In addition, he said the Ministry is set to invite bids to lease out four of its school buildings that are now vacant. "They can use them at low cost and improve their services. Besides, the Ministry is set invite tenders for five new land plots for building private schools."
Al-Abdallah said the Ministry is working through a five year plan (2017- 2022) that aims at increasing the number and types of private schools in the country with focus on quality education. "Based on the mechanism of demand and supply , when more school seats are available at private schools , this would eventually create a balance and could lead to reduced fees due to the available multiple options. The Ministry is working on this currently."
Representatives of the wining companies expressed their appreciation for the government's gesture and said that it would certainly reflect positively on the educational system in the country.
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