The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE), represented by the Private Education Affairs Sector, issued the academic policy for compulsory subjects (Arabic language, Islamic education, Qatari history) in private schools and kindergartens - version 2021, which is an update of the same policy that was circulated in the 2019-2020 academic year.
The Private Schools Affairs Department in the Private Education Affairs Sector of the Ministry stated in a circular that the most important items of the updated version of the academic policy for compulsory subjects were:
These academic policy updates relating to the 3 compulsory subjects come as part of the efforts made to enhance the national identity and religious values of our students in private schools and preschools. They are also based on the educational and parental observations, as well the educational system’s affiliates' evaluation of the 2019 academic policy. It is the first time ever that private schools are required to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies to kindergarten and foundation year students.
The updated policy sets out core and support principles for teaching the compulsory subjects of Arabic, Islamic Studies and Qatar History.
According to the core principles, private schools have to dedicate hours for teaching those subjects throughout the school day. The teaching time for each subject may not be combined with other subjects. Schools are required to arrange to provide students with an original copy of the Ministry's most recent learning resources according to what is contained in the circular.
In addition, private schools have to administer assessments for the 3 subjects to each targeted group by preparing quality exams that meet the standards and recommendations set out by the Ministry's Students Assessment Department. Schools must also observe the religious principles and foundations of the social and cultural heritage.
Learning resources and relevant curricular and extra-curricular activities must work to foster the students' Arabic language skills and the national identity of the Qatari community.
In addition, the content of the resources selected or prepared by the private schools must be free from anything that contradicts with the Islamic teachings and community values. Schools have to activate the Ministry-provided basic learning resources, and select high-school support resources that meet the national and/or international curriculum.
As an additional step, schools and preschools have to administer regular internal assessments for the 3 compulsory subjects in order to monitor students' progress and weaknesses and prepare remedial plans accordingly. Schools are required to provide all students, without exception, with the Ministry-issued learning resources for the 3 subjects.
No photocopied learning resources may be given to the students.
Under the support principles, on the other hand, schools must arrange to employ competent resources to teach the subjects in question, and upskill them continuously in accordance with the follow-up and supervision plans and student evaluation outcomes. Schools and preschools should also organize various official activities to foster the students' national identity, which, in turn, symbolizes national solidarity and integration. Non-Muslim students should be introduced to the Islamic religion, values and ethics through awareness embedded in other subjects (i.e. Qatar History) and school activities.
School libraries shall be provided with resources relevant to the 3 compulsory subjects, and shall be updated regularly. In addition, students must be encouraged to get involved in the Ministry's activities and competitions related to those subjects to contribute to enhancing Qatar national identity and history. Students who encounter learning difficulties with Arabic language shall be provided with additional classes, both individually and in small groups, to enhance their skills.
The updated policy also identified a number of support resources and relevant requirements. By definition, support resources are resources prepared or selected by private schools to activate and enrich the core learning resources without contradiction. It is important to ensure that such support resources do not conflict with the Islamic Sharia laws or Qatari cultural identity. They should also conform with the objectives and philosophy of the Qatari curriculum in order to support the fulfillment of the required skills as appropriate to the class level. The resources must be subjected to rigorous scientific review to ensure the quality, modernity and clarity of its content.
The new version of the policy provided a mechanism for teaching the 3 compulsory subjects in all private schools and preschools, including the national, international and community schools.
Under the new policy, private schools and preschools are required to present an executive plan for the three subjects in accordance with the approved curricula (international programs), the approved school days and the number of teaching hours. Revision and examination days, as well as official holidays, should also be considered in the executive plan.
Schools are required to implement the semester plans for each of the 3 subjects approved by the PSAD, while adapting the same to the annual plan in order to ensure a proper planning mechanism. Moreover, schools must use the PSAD's relevant form for drawing up the daily plans. This will be monitored in order to verify that the daily planning mechanism for lessons is being used as required.
The Academic Policy on Compulsory Subjects for Private Schools and Preschools - 2021 Version' defined areas of support by the Ministry to private schools, which included the training of educators on the curriculum of the 3 compulsory subjects. Teachers will be enrolled in programs to enhance their basic skills, learning outcomes and competencies required for the 3 subjects as per the Qatari curriculum. This will be administered in cooperation with Training and Educational Development Center to contribute to the ongoing training and development of teachers.
The Ministry will hold periodic meetings to follow up on the curricula implementation in private schools in order to educate and enable private school and preschool principals to use the support mechanism strategies. Schools will be provided with the most recent publications and information issued in regard to these subjects. Teachers and coordinators will be urged to attend any seminars, meetings or competitions organized or sponsored by the Ministry in this regard. They can also interact with the social platforms affiliated with the Ministry's academic departments. The Ministry will be using all open channels to notify the schools of any consultations, questions or information.
The areas of support include the provision of approved learning resources. In this regard, the Ministry will supervise the system for providing learning resources as per the established procedures. As applicable in public schools, the learning resources will be given to students by the beginning of each semester, even in the schools that adopt a three-semester system.
The Private Education Affairs Sector seeks to enhance the national identity, Islamic values and Arabic language across the private schools operating in the country. To this end, the PSAD has been making intensive efforts since 2012 to follow up on the implementation of the 3 compulsory subjects in the private schools as per the decisions made in this regard. Updates have been made regularly in response to developments and observations identified.
The policy update relied on the mechanisms for teaching the three compulsory subjects: Core principles, support principles, target groups, follow-up components and the determinants of evaluating each group. Through these mechanisms, both the private schools and the Ministry's departments concerned with monitoring and following up can gauge the quality of the operations in these schools.
Source: Ministry of Education and Higher Education; Qatar News Agency
Cover image credit: Hukoomi Qatar
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