Education and Schools in Qatar

Various challenges face expats moving to the Middle Eastern emirate, but navigating the system of education in Qatar is one part of the process that doesn’t have to be too complicated.

Most expats send their children to private international schools and their biggest obstacle is often not the lack of places in Qatari schools, but rather choosing between them.

Expat parents should research potential schools and apply as soon as possible. To help with this, the Supreme Education Council of Qatar (SEC) provides a list of schools on its official website.

Independent public schools in Qatar

Independent public schools in Qatar receive government funding and provide free tuition to all eligible residents. Most students are Qatari, although expats with the right connections might be admitted.

The SEC oversees all schools in the emirate and, as a result, state schools in Qatar generally provide a good quality education.

Private international schools in Qatar

Even though the government puts a lot of effort into ensuring the standards of local schools, most expat children attend private international schools in Qatar.

There are various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American and Indian systems. Most families choose a curriculum similar to the one in their home country, while expats who move frequently often prefer the IB curriculum.

When choosing a school, expat parents have to consider travel times and whether their children’s qualifications will be internationally recognised.

Rush hour in Qatar 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.

Tuition and availability

Aside from the lack of student places in Qatar, hefty tuition fees are another potential difficulty. Private schools can cost more than 60,000 QAR per year without additional expenses like registration fees, uniforms and excursions, and most fees are due at the beginning of the school year.

Education in Qatar can be a significant expense, so expats should try and negotiate school fees into their contract or ensure that they budget carefully.

Enrolment requires long-term planning because waiting lists for spaces in schools can be long. Some expats secure places for their children in a school before signing their employment contract, since some companies reserve spaces in schools.

Application and enrolment

Expats applying to a school can expect to pay a non-refundable application fee. They will need to fill out an application and provide previous school documents, their child's health history, and physical exam results. Some schools also require a letter of recommendation, on-site entrance exams and a language test.

After enrolment, expats may also need to give copies of the student’s residence permit, passport copies, photos and immunisation records, as well as copies of their residence permits.

The school year runs from September to June, with a typical school day lasting from 7.30am to 2pm. After-school activities extend the school day for children who take part in them.

Homeschooling in Qatar

Some parents avoid the admissions process and decide on homeschooling in Qatar. 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.
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