Just like any other type of schooling, homeschooling is an international endeavor. Millions of families around the world have made the decision to take their child’s education into their own hands, especially during and in the wake of COVID-19. And, like the United States, every country has its own opinions, philosophies, and laws surrounding homeschooling.
In this monthly series, we’ll take a look at different countries around the world and how they view homeschooling as well as the types of laws (if any) those countries have to govern homeschooling. The first country we visited was the second-largest country in the world, and the northern neighbor to the United States–Canada. Then we went island hopping to the Philippines and Puerto Rico before cruising on over to South Africa. We headed back to the Caribbean to the Dominican Republic, traveled all the way to Thailand, made our way back to Mexico, and now we journey to the Middle East to explore homeschooling in Qatar!
Qatar is a fascinating country, but one that seems to fly under the radar. Some interesting facts about Qatar:
- It is the richest country in the world.
- It’s also the safest country in the world, based on the chance of a natural disaster occuring there.
- Qatar is the second-flattest country in the world–not great if you enjoy hiking.
- There are no forests in Qatar–one of only four countries/territories in the world.
- Nearly 100% of the population of approximately 3 million lives in urban areas–about 82% live in the capital city of Doha.
- But only around 12% of the population are native Qataris.
- The country has a 97% literacy rate.
- Qatar is ruled by a monarchy, the Al Thani family.
- The men’s soccer FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar in 2022; the country built nine new stadiums just for the event!
- Qatar shares a small land border with Saudi Arabia and is a peninsula with coasts on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Bahrain.
- As of 2019, there were more than 3,000 homeschoolers in Qatar.
Rules and Requirements for Homeschooling in Qatar
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, Qatar has different homeschooling rules for native Qataris and expatriates living in the country. For Qatari citizens, it’s a tougher road to navigate if a family wants to homeschool. In Qatar, homeschooling is considered “parallel” or “alternative” schooling, and Qatari citizens can only homeschool their children if they obtain a waiver from the Supreme Education Council (SEC) for one of these two conditions: the child has extenuating circumstances, such as health or medical conditions, and whose special needs can’t be met in a regular classroom; or the child is older than the compulsory education age.
The SEC expects homeschool programs to follow SEC curriculum standards–citizens can still choose their own resources as long as they satisfy SEC requirements. Qatari parents should register each child at a designated school, whose resources are available to that family.
For expats, however, there is no law regarding homeschooling. One important scenario to note, however: if you plan on enrolling your child in a Qatari school at some point after homeschooling, it’s important to keep records and/or use an accredited homeschool program (like Bridgeway Academy!). Why? Because many schools in Qatar now require education transcripts for admission; an accredited program will generally provide that service for you.
If you’re considering homeschooling in Qatar, you’re certainly not alone in your journey. Below is a list of homeschooling groups in Qatar that can help provide support and answers to your questions.
By most accounts, there are only a few negatives associated with homeschooling in Qatar. One potential drawback is that, since the country is small and its largest city (Doha) may not offer all of the cultural amenities of a much larger city, you may need to get creative when it comes to field trips and excursions. That said, Doha is a beautiful city with museums, markets, and other sights to see. Plus, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved with activities and other homeschooling families in Qatar.
One homeschool mom in Qatar is a member of Doha Home Educators (see link above) and calls it “a great support group of friends that are like family.” Through the group, her children partake in athletic, artistic, educational, and culinary events, all while enjoying the socialization that comes with those activities.
Qatar’s School System
Education in Qatar is divided into two stages: basic education that encompasses preschool, primary and secondary education; and higher education. Public schools in Qatar are similar to those in the US: they consist of 12 years, which includes six-years of elementary followed by three years of secondary and then three years of higher.
Those seeking to homeschool in Qatar may or may not be doing so because the country’s quality of education is lacking:
- Qatar ranks number one of all Arab countries and number four in the world according to the Global Education Quality Index issued by the World Economic Forum in Davos 2021.
- It should be noted, however, that U.S. News & World Report ranked Qatar number 41 in education in 2021.
- The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Education GPS, which uses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to assess the reading, science, and math skills of 15-year-old students every three years, reported statistics similar to those in U.S. News & World Report.
- In reading, students in Qatar scored 80 points below (407) the OECD country mean (487).
- In math, students in Qatar scored 75 points below (414) the OECD country mean (489).
- In science, students in Qatar scored 70 points below (419) the OECD country mean (489)
- Additionally, OECD reports that 33% of students in Qatar reported being bullied at least a few times a month, compared to 23% on average across OECD countries.
A positive to take out of these numbers is that the PISA exam scores have been steadily trending upward for Qatar since 2006, when the mean reading, math, and science scores were 312, 318, and 349 respectively, compared to 2018’s 407, 414, and 419. Although, as a caveat, experts believe that this trend could be at least partially attributed to changes in the student population in Qatar, meaning a significant increase of foreign-born students, who tended to score higher than native Qatari students.
Bridgeway in Qatar
Bridgeway Academy is the homeschool choice for more than 60 students in Qatar! If you’re currently living in Qatar or are planning on moving there, remember that Bridgeway offers plenty of amazing homeschool programs–plus accreditation, record-keeping, and support–that can be used anywhere in the world! And, don’t forget to look up fellow Bridgeway families–it’s a community that can be found in nearly two dozen countries across the globe, and the Bridgeway community is a strong one.
Download our free PDF about homeschooling with a U.S. based program and then contact our admissions team today at (800) 863-1474 to start your homeschool adventure. Stay tuned–we’ll be bringing you homeschooling info from another international location soon!