Education in Doha is of a world-class standard and is more than adequate for most expats. A wide range of private international schools in Doha is available, which cater to a variety of needs and follow various curricula from all over the world, including British, American, French and German.
While there are Qatari schools in Doha which expat children are eligible to attend, most parents opt to send their children to international schools. These offer a smoother transition for those accustomed to studying a particular curriculum from their home country. Some parents in Doha prefer homeschooling, although legislation on this issue is ambiguous, which presents its own challenges.
Public schools in Doha
Public schools in Doha receive government funding and provide free tuition to all citizens and eligible expat students. Most students are Qatari, although expats with the right connections might find they can secure a place. The quality of education at these schools is excellent and they are a good option for foreigners who are looking to settle down in Doha in the long-term and want their children to be integrated into Qatari society.
Public and independent schools share the same compulsory subjects: Arabic, English, maths, science and Islamic studies. Overseen by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, public schools include preschool, primary school (grades one to six), preparatory school (grades seven to nine) and secondary school (grades 10 to 12).
At secondary school, students can select either general education or specialisations in a technical school such as those for banking, business administration, and science and technology.
International schools in Doha
Even though the standards of local schools are good, most expat children attend private international schools in Doha. There are various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American, German, French and Indian systems. Most families choose a curriculum similar to the one in their home country, while families who move frequently often prefer the IB curriculum.
When choosing a school, parents must consider transport options and whether their children’s qualifications will be internationally recognised. Rush hour in Doha means that children can spend hours travelling to and from school, and not all schools provide a bus service. Living close to school makes it easier on expat kids and their parents.
Expats should also make sure that a school is accredited by Qatar National School Accreditation (QNSA) and recognised in their home country.
Education in Doha can be a significant expense, so parents should try and negotiate school fees into their contract or ensure that they budget carefully. We recommend that parents plan well in advance to secure a place for their child as waiting lists are long and various documentation is required.
Documents normally include visa and residence permits, previous school records, records of the child's health history, a letter of recommendation and sometimes on-site entrance exams.
Nurseries in Doha
Expats with young kids can easily find a nursery to suit them, either public or private, and in some cases linked to a larger international primary and high school.
Qatari kindergartens encourage children to be active and creative, aiming to help them grow and develop their personality. Nurseries in Doha offer high-quality educational and play materials with experienced teachers. Young children are unlikely to face language barriers as they learn both English and Arabic in public nurseries, while private daycares cater to additional languages.
Special needs education in Doha
Empowering persons with disabilities is one of Qatar’s top priorities, and this includes quality integrated special needs education in mainstream classrooms where possible.
In most cases, schools, both public and private, tailor support services to meet diverse needs. This involves students with learning-, physical- or developmental disabilities as well as students with behavioural, emotional and communication disorders, including students with autism and intellectual disabilities.
Comprehensive and integrated teaching incorporates adapting curricula, introducing and engaging with specialised materials and technology, as well as support from specialists and all teaching and school staff.
Though schools are becoming increasingly integrated, depending on the severity of the child’s disability, there are specialised schools that specifically cater to students with disabilities. Specialised schools include Al-Hidaya schools for students with intellectual disabilities and separate schools for students with hearing impairments.
Homeschooling in Doha
Some parents avoid the admissions process and decide on homeschooling in Doha. Doha Home Educators (DHE) has been pivotal in creating an organised network for homeschoolers in Doha and regularly organises classroom lessons, activities and events. Given the vague homeschooling regulations for expatriates in Qatar, DHE advises parents to follow the regulations of their home country.
Tutors in Doha
Tutoring in Doha, like elsewhere around the world, is a popular and growing industry. There are many online platforms to use to find tutors for a wide spectrum of subjects and curricula – some tutors may focus on IB or IGCSE and A-Levels, while others focus on the Qatari curriculum. TeacherOn and MyPrivateTutor are among the commonly used online platforms.
►For more on homeschooling in Qatar, see the Doha Home Educators site
►Ministry of Education and Higher Education: www.edu.gov.qa
►Read an overview of what to expect from Education and Schools in Qatar
►See a comprehensive guide to International Schools in Doha
Are you an expat living in Doha?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Doha. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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