Qatar National Vision 2030: propelling Qatar towards a
world-class education system
Qatar National Vision 2030 aims to build the capacities of Qatari citizens by establishing a world-class education system that offers exceptional opportunities for quality education and training (from Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education website).
Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education (Ministry of Education) in keeping with the Qatar National Vision 2030 is keen to allow local and foreign investors to establish educational institutions in Qatar. However this would of course depend on the fulfilment by the applicant of stringent criteria that the Ministry of Education has for approving such applications.
Foreign Investment Law
Qatar Law No. 1 of 2019 Regulating the Investment of Non-Qatari Capital in Economic Activity and its Executive Regulations No. 44 of 2020 (Foreign Investment Law) allows foreign investors to establish companies in Qatar under the umbrella of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) with ownership over 49% up to 100% without the need for a local Qatari Partner, subject to ministerial approval being granted.
Driven by the flexibility provided under the Foreign Investment Law, the MOCI, working along with the Ministry of Education, is welcoming foreign investors to establish educational institutions in Qatar with full foreign ownership.
There are 322 registered private schools and kindergartens, with varying curricula, including international curricula and schools serving diverse communities. Qatar has nearly doubled the number of licenced colleges and universities over the past 5 years to 30 such institutions, both public and private (from Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education website).
The Government of Qatar provides free education for all Qatari citizens upto the age of 18 years (Law No. 25 of 2001 as amended by Law No. 25 of 2009). However, there is no specific legislation mandating attendance at schools of children of expat residents.
Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education is mandated to organize schools (public and private and for children with special needs), appoint their administrative and academic staff, set the study system, curricula, plans and exams in schools, the rules for passing, failing and repetition and rules for behavioural discipline [Law No. 9 of 2017 regulating Schools].
The Ministry of Education has been promoting the establishment of international private institutions at all levels of education. In particular private schools (i.e. non-governmental facilities starting from kindergarten up to the end of the secondary stage) are governed by Law No. 23 of 2015 regulating Private Schools read with its Executive Regulations under No. 40 of 2017 (Private Schools Law).
The Ministry of Education website provides that:
while private schools are licenced and regulated, school operators are able to set their own curricula and do their own hiring;
under the Foreign Investment Law 100% ownership by individuals or companies wanting to establish and run educational institutions in Qatar;
under the Foreign Investment Law, non-Qatari investors can get help in securing land for their schools and are exempt from duties on equipment imported into the country.
Criteria for grant
Under Law No. 18 of 2015 concerning the Practicing of Educational Services and the Private School Law, licences to provide educational services or run private schools are issued by the Ministry of Education and shall only be granted to applicants who fulfil the following conditions:
The minimum age of a natural person shall be twenty-one years.
The applicant shall have full civil capacity.
The applicant shall have good conduct and reputation.
Neither the natural person or any of those in charge of the management of juridical person or its partners may be an employee of the Ministry of Education or the entities reporting thereto or have direct interest with the Ministry of Education during the licence validity period.
No final judgment has been delivered against the natural person or any of those in charge of the management of juridical person or its partners for a crime involving moral turpitude or breach of trust, even if rehabilitated later.
is granted for a fixed term (and may be renewed by the approval of the Ministry of Education),
is not transferable, and
the licencee may not provide services outside the scope of the licence.
In particular, the management of private schools are required to provide to the Ministry of Education a list of all the school fees and charges it decides to collect from the students for approval before their application. The school may not increase such fees or charges without the approval of the Ministry of Education.
Other important conditions for the grant of a licence are that the school location, building, facilities and equipment, and teaching staff must be in accordance with the conditions and specifications determined by the executive regulations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic effected all areas of life including the education sector, schools closed down for safety reasons. At such time and so as to not allow students to fall behind in their studies, the Ministry of Education mandated schools to begin an online education programme.
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Ministry of Education adopted a 'Blended Learning' program (which combined distance learning and classroom-based lessons) for part of the 2020/21 academic year. The program applied to all stages of education across the public and private schools and preschools, as well as the higher education institutions.
Since February 2022, students have moved back to full time in-school sessions. However, as the Ministry of Education has mandated all schools to close during the FIFA World Cup 2022, some schools will return to online teaching for some of the period of closure.
Illustration of Sophie Germain