The State of Qatar has made a tangibly unique stride towards applying the initiative of bringing education to a new level under the slogan "Education for A New Era"; an initiative which was outlined and whose strategy was approved by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
The first practical step to fulfill the objectives of this initiative was the closing of contracts for the building of twelve independent schools, a historical achievement of the Supreme Education Council (SEC). Independent schools will open in September 2004.
Publicly financed, Independent Schools, the backbone of the new educational system, aim at adopting educational philosophy which encourages students to be innovative and creative; they also instill in students a passion for learning and continuous self-learning for life.
According to this educational system each independent school has been given freedom, within the scope of regulations agreed upon with the SEC Education Authority to ensure accountability and quality of teaching, of defining its mission, philosophy, curriculum, methodology, nominating its own teachers and administrative and auxiliary staff.
What's more, independent schools have the freedom to design their own curricula in a way to be consistent with their educational plans, with a commitment to the syllabus criteria provided by Education Authority in Arabic and English languages, mathematics, sciences which are designed to ensure that students get high caliber tuition to enable them compete globally.
Independent schools are free of charge for each and every student in the State of Qatar who has the right of public education. In these schools students study all regular courses such as Islamic education, Arabic Language and the like, with a focus on computer science at all stages.
Teachers at such schools will make use of the new criteria for accredited curricula according to international standards in four disciplines: Arabic Language, English Language, science, and mathematics. Experts argue that students who excel in such disciplines can pass other disciplines.
The Initiative aims at building a distinguished educational system of international standards which would provide Qatari students with up-to-date education similar to the best ones worldwide. The initiative is based on fundamental principles: independency, responsibility, variety, and selection. All in all, such principles aim at creating new environment for education to make opportunities readily available for students to achieve the highest performance levels possible by means of providing various educational alternatives which would enable parents to pick up what suits their children best.
The initiative will be carried out progressively, starting from building national capabilities and promotion of cultural values and heritage. It is also based on two fundamental elements, namely educational evaluation to control performance of students and schools and private institutions subsidized by government.
The initiative depends on evaluation to make sure that decision makers are objectively and accurately informed about development of education giving more importance to evaluating body and analysis of educational data.
Educational evaluation in Qatar is a criterion for the quality of education in the country as it enables schools to define performance of their students in every level to find out flaws that need study and priority.
Under the umbrella of the Supreme Council for Education, responsibilities of the evaluation body have been defined in determining both students and teachers' objectives. In plain words, to define whether students and schools are doing their jobs according to the set objectives. As such, the establishment is supervision of students, schools and teachers' performance in order to take the appropriate decision.
Officials in the SEC stated that the approval for the first institution is a historical achievement in the short existence of the council. Worth to mention that the decree to establish the council dates back to November 2002, approving a strategic educational plan to develop the sector based on autonomy, diversity, selection and most important questioning.
They also said that Qatar is witnessing at the present time a significant development in the field of education as an important step towards forming the Qatari graduates as opportunity is offered for everybody to take part in development of the sector in order to enrich the democratic march in Qatar.