Congressional Briefing - July 10, 2006

Education for a New Era: Improving the Qatari Education System

Presented by
Charles Goldman, Associate Director of RAND Education and
Catherine Augustine, Behavioral Scientist at RAND

Monday, July 10, 2006
12:00-1:30 P.M.
B-338 Rayburn House Office Building
Lunch will be provided

In response to growing concerns that Qatar's education system was not aligned to the State's modernization initiatives, in 2001 the Emir asked RAND to objectively assess the existing education system.

Subsequent systemic reforms implemented in the fall of 2002 have drastically altered the educational landscape of the country. Components of these reforms are spreading to other States in the Persian Gulf.

The new Qatari education system is based on these guiding principles:

  • new government-funded schools operated privately rather than by the Ministry of Education;
  • national standardized student tests aligned with new internationally benchmarked curriculum standards that emphasize critical thinking; and
  • an improved information system about school performance to facilitate accountability and parental choice and involvement.

RAND has implemented these reforms by working alongside both Qataris and multiple international partner organizations. This talk will not only describe the reform components and progress, but the process for achieving reform in the Middle East with suggestions for addressing the complexities associated with working cross-culturally.

In addition to the K-12 reform, Qatar is also moving forward on initiatives to advance its higher education system, which include upgrading Qatar University, Qatar branch campuses of American universities, and a national scholarship system to fund study abroad.