Hend Jarrar
Asma Alharqan
Office of Student Assessment
Ministry of Education and Higher Education

Overview of Education System

The State of Qatar has taken important steps toward building an effective educational system by defining and adopting the best international practices to meet its national needs. There have been many developments in the educational system that reflect Qatar’s vision for excellence. Many countries now consider the State of Qatar as having an innovative and distinguished learning environment leading to successful student achievement.1

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (previously the Supreme Education Council) is responsible for educational decision making and the development and advancement of the education sector to meet the need in the State of Qatar for outstanding human resources and competencies in various fields. The Ministry also is responsible for drawing up national educational policy and linking it to educational goals, plans, and programs in accordance with the general objectives of the state.2

Qatar follows a policy of compulsory education until the end of the preparatory stage and provides free education to all citizens. Basic education consists of a primary stage (six years), a preparatory stage (three years), and a secondary stage (three years).3 The state provides free education for all Qatari students from the preschool to university levels and higher. Exhibit 1 presents the levels of education in Qatar.

Exhibit 1: Levels of Education in Qatar

Level Ages Number of Years
KG 1 & 2 4–6 2
Primary 6–12 6
Preparatory 12–15 3
Secondary 15–18 3
University 18–22 4

The government encourages the establishment of all sorts

The government encourages the establishment of all sorts of private educational institutions and provides them with the support they need in legislation and supervision.4

The state of Qatar has several types of schools:

  • Independent schools—Belong to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and follow the national curriculum
  • International schools—Apply international curriculum
  • Community schools—Apply the curriculum of each school’s national community
  • Private schools—Belong partially to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education

The mathematics and science curriculum differs for the different types of schools. The main difference occurs between international schools and the other types, as international schools apply international curricula with international standards.

Languages of Instruction

Arabic is the official language in Qatar. Because Qatar has a diverse population from a wide range of other countries, many foreign languages are spoken in the country. The major foreign language is English. Among Qataris and expatriates, bilingualism and switching between Arabic and English is common. The language of instruction in Grades 4 and 8 depends on the type of school. Exhibit 2 presents the languages of instruction by school type in Qatar.

Exhibit 2: Languages of Instruction in Qatar

School Type Languages of Instruction
Independent Schools Arabic, with scientific terms in Arabic and English
International Schools English
Community Schools Depends on the national community
Private Schools Arabic