Introduction: Exploring Educational Tendencies in Qatar
Qatar is one of the leading countries in the Gulf area due to its economic and social performance as compared to other nations in the region. The country’s real GDP is around 8%, which is one of the highest rates among Arab states (Survey of economic and social developments 2009). This success can be explained by the countries commitment to ongoing reforms and adoption of approaches that have proved to be successful such as the introduction of electronic record-keeping in Qatari healthcare facilities, the development of a universal insurance program in the healthcare sector, the use of the advanced technology in the petrochemical industry (Goodman 2015).
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The educational reform is one of the most remarkable illustrations of this successful adoption. The country managed to achieve almost universal literacy among people under 15 (Survey of economic and social developments 2009). The inclusion of women in the educational sphere is also remarkable as over half of the student pool within higher education is female students (Golkowska 2014).
This paper includes an analysis of educational policies as well as the effects of globalization on the sphere of education in Qatar. Specifically, the work focuses on such issues as literacy, schooling materials facilitation, the improvement of learning access, and the promotion of equality. The overview of the WISE initiative, which evolved as one of the most consistent globalization influences, is sustained.
The paper is divided into three central sections. The first part of the analysis provides a general context in which the case study is regarded. Specifically, it targets the issues of social, economic, historical, and political foundations, which rule the dimension of learning in Qatar. Second, the realization of educational progression through the realization of WISE forum initiative is analyzed. Finally, the connection between the principles of globalization and educational improvement in developing countries is reviewed. This analysis of the data suggests that the impact of international institutions and global policies improvement inflicted some positive changes that were applied in the Qatari educational system.
Educational Policies Background
Exploring the Social Platform in Qatar
In the majority of Arabian states, the foundation for learning is extremely poor due to scarce resources available to allocate in the educational system (Rizvi & Lingard 2009). Such Arab countries as Yemen, Egypt, and Palestine where more than 50% of people do not have access to proper sanitation and where life expectancy is the lowest in the region have various socio-economic and political issues to resolve before they can consider allocating significant funds into the educational sphere (Survey of economic and social developments 2009). Despite the fact that Qatar belongs to the countries, which overtake global policies, it still has an unfavorable background for the stimulation of academic learning.
The major issues, which underline the disruptive regulations of the country, include the prejudiced attitude to female education, socioeconomic inequality, and the political strategies that are embraced by the authorities. For instance, the policies introduced are not consistent enough as females are encouraged to obtain higher education, and their academic achievements are remarkable while they are often unable to enter the labor force due to various cultural peculiarities (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). The role of a woman in the lagging Arabian society has long imposed some restrictions. Specifically, some time ago, the capabilities and opportunities of professional development or self-expression were limited for the females from Qatar.
Women are often reluctant to work in a gender-mixed working environment; they are also inclined to focus on their family rather than their career. Stasz, Fide, and Martorell (2007) also note that policies associated with the so-called Qatarization are not always successful as they fail to address the cultural and financial aspects. These programs do not provide sufficient financial support to private-sector companies or employees of these organizations. At that, it is not prestigious to work in this sector, which makes existing incentives of the government quite inefficient (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007).
Concerning the access to education, it is stated that Qatar has recently revealed some stable improvements by opening up the sphere of higher education for women as new disciplines are now available for them. For instance, women were permitted to study electrical and chemical engineering in the 2010s (Issan 2013). Nevertheless, the area is still full of discriminative tendencies. Bachelor degrees in agricultural science, geology, and urban planning are still available to men exclusively (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). This may be explained by the fact that, according to the labor law, women are not allowed to engage in professions that might be “dangerous or arduous,” which means that although females obtain a degree, they remain unemployed (Issan 2013, p. 156).
Women in Qatar have limited access to financial services. According to the fact that the majority of females are engaged in the household sphere of agriculture, they have no opportunities to receive credits or deposits, for the dimension of microfinance does not cover this specific labor class. For instance, only 3% of Qatari female nationals are “employed outside the home” (Golkowska 2014, p. 55). The overall rate of Qatari female employment is quite high, as it is 36%, which is higher than in other Arab countries (Golkowska 2014). At that, only 3% of these women occupy leadership posts (Golkowska 2014).
One of the most striking and conspicuous illustrations of gender disparity is the fact that, during the 3rd Annual International Forum in 2012, four out of five of the panel members of the Qatari Businesswomen Association were men (Golkowska 2014). In contrast, men, who are primarily employed by the industrial institutions and service sectors, tend to address the offers of finance quite often. This pattern stimulates an uneven distribution of economic privileges throughout the community of Qatar.
The political background of the female involvement in the academic world, as well as the labor market, describes some consistent drawbacks of the educational system as well. For instance, it is proved that the government representation lacks specialists of the female gender. For example, out of 29 seats, only one female occupies a seat in the Central Municipal Council (Golkowska 2014). the authority representation on the local level reveals even lower rates. Consequently, it is quite logical that the educational policies, which would guarantee some basic rights for females, are hindered and eradicated in their development.
The lack of political initiatives is one more problem, which underlines educational inefficiency in the country. Thus, the statistical data proves that there is a strong shortage of teachers in the country. It has been estimated that 33% of independent schools’ educators do not have a “teaching qualification” (Walker 2015, para. 24). Clearly, this has a negative impact on the quality of the educational services provided. The students’ performance and, more importantly, their desire to pursue their academic goals may decrease in the long run.
The educators’ absenteeism stems from the general poverty, lack of opportunities for professional development, and instability of the learning processes. The issue is particularly urgent if one speaks about rural districts. Therefore, the responsibility of the government is to take care of the improvement of working conditions for teachers. It might also be beneficial to enhance the level of educators’ income to motivate the professionals to embrace the positions of teachers and professors in Qatar (Kane 2013).
Therefore, one may certify that the combination of separate social, economic, and political problems, which exist in the cruel Arabian world, hinders the quality of educational improvement. Still, in the latest years, the influence of global initiative brought some learning renovations. The effects of the improvements are connected with globalization spread, which stipulated the introduction of Qatar National Vision 2030 and WISE Forum initiative.
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Defining the Features of the Qatar Education
The character of the Qatar educational system stems from the history of the social and political relations of the country. Today, however, through the impact of globalization tendencies, some favorable tendencies appeared in the system of academic development. One of these trends involves the development of economic conditions that fostered the development of the entire system as the educational sphere became rather competitive (Misra 2012). The content of education has also undergone significant changes, and the focus on literacy is made in Qatar (Misra 2012). An example of the changes that take place in Qatar’s position among other countries of the Arab world in showing high literacy rates and increasing enrollment rates.
The country is one of the leaders as more than 90% of people over 15 are literate, and the ratio of the net enrollment in primary education is around 97% (Survey of economic and social developments 2009). The positive schooling reformations started in Qatar in 2001 when the central government overtook the first Western world initiative that included a transfer to the Education for a New Era program. This policy focuses on “achieving universal primary education” as it motivates people to obtain higher education and pursue careers in a variety of spheres (Survey of economic and social developments 2009, p. 74). Importantly, females also obtain primary and secondary education, which contributes to the development of a more egalitarian society.
Primary education, in this country, represents a 6-year learning experience, which stipulates elemental literacy improvement. There are both private and public schools in Qatar. The majority of Qatari students attend publicly managed schools (69%), which can be explained by the availability of education as public schools are free since they are funded by the government (OECD 2012). Furthermore, the country government embraces a number of international initiatives and opens multicultural schools with European educational approaches. Today, there are 147 international primary schools in the country. The introduction of the full access to primary education still posed some threats to the academic proficiency. Thus, the rapid increases in learners’ rates created the problems with the facilitation of study process. Specifically, there were not enough materials and study manuals for the pupils (Misra 2012).
Primary school teachers, who work in Qatar today, meet the criteria of professional eligibility since the policy, which stemmed from internationalization of learning, imposed an obligation to complete a K-12 testing. At the same time, Faour (2012) notes that a significant number of pre-school teachers lack formal education. More so, they are reluctant to get on-job training or any form of training (Faour 2012). It is noteworthy that the occupation of a primary school teacher in a public school in Qatar is characterized by the poor level of working conditions. Specifically, the specialists are not facilitated with the appropriate study materials, the classrooms lack physical comfort conditions, and the salaries are quite small. However, the level of schooling in the private international establishments is contrastively high since the program employs intercultural exchanges and draws foreign investments as well as governmental support.
The system of secondary education in the Arabian states has long experienced inaccessibility. One of the most typical examples is the inclusion of females since schools (and especially higher education courses) for girls became common only in the second part of the 20th century (Stewart 2012). In many countries of the Gulf (including Qatar), non-citizens have to obtain an education in private schools where tuition fees are rather high, which makes it less affordable (OECD 2012). Moreover, the majority of the population considers the occupation to be unpractical for there is usually no need for the citizens to engage in professional development.
The biggest part of the community is involved in manual labor. Still, the patterns are slightly changing under the influence of globalization. Specifically, the country is gradually transforming into a well-developed touristic state (Golkowska 2014). Gender gaps are also decreasing in the educational sphere. More so, Qatar University had 76% of female students in 2008-2009 (Golkowska 2014). In many cases, female students outperform male students (Golkowska 2014).
The development of the socio-economic foundations in Qatar stipulated not only the growth of primary learning but higher educational improvements as well. Today, the famous Qatar State University, which was founded in 1972, draws the privileged students and high-progressive learners not only from the Arab world states but from the other Middle East countries as well. The most famous academic spheres in Qatar include Economics, Geography, and Business, which indicates the reformation of country economy. Qatar foundation also embraces distance-learning platforms, which develop numerous international bonds with American universities. Among the priority partners of Qatar University are Georgetown University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Cornell University.
Despite the general higher education improvements, the culture of certain gender segregation is still evident in Qatar. Specifically, the modern university campus is divided into female and male subdivisions, which prove that providing women with an access to education did not eliminate gender divide in the society (Golkowska 2014). The same rule applies to middle and secondary schools since there are separate school groups for boys and girls in such schools.
The system of educational funding in Qatar is also improving with an advance of globalization tendencies. Thus, if the prevailing sources of funding were coming from private loans in the past time, today, the system of scholarship loans is developed, which bridges the gap between the education of Western world and the developing countries’ schooling. Thus, the government funds 90% of public schools in the country (OECD 2012). The establishment of the Higher Education Institute Scholarships is a governmental incentive that contributes greatly to the promulgation of higher education. The HEIS provides a variety of scholarship options that enable Qatari people to obtain higher education in the country as well as abroad (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). As a result, academic excellence increases, which facilitates motivation-driven education.
Another example of the governmental incentives aimed at the development of the educational system is the creation of Qatar Foundation. The institution was build on the basis of global integration. Today, it puts its central focus on the research development. Lately, the specialized research fund was created. The platform gives investment opportunities to the fund-seeking academicians.
One of the most promising initiatives launched by the organization is the creation of WISE forum. With the development of WISE forum foundation, the governmental policies suggested a four-step implementation improvement. First, the Supreme Educational Council of Qatar took a direction on linking the labor market to the educational programs. Second, the government founded Education Institute, which started a supervision of the educational standards and teacher training programs (Institutional standards office 2016).
Third, the Institute of Evaluation embraced a complex guidance of testing programs. Finally, the coordination of implementation team organized the reformation work and split the duties among the educators and academic workers. These principles and directions established by the government are aimed at encouraging Qatari people to pursue their academic goals and become high-profile professionals who are able to innovate and develop the economy of the country.
The Interrelations between Education and Globalization
The notion of globalization implies the complex integration of social, economic, political or educational issues shared by the communities of different countries. The process of uniting global strategies may stem from various reasons and backgrounds. A number of developing countries replicate the patterns of success, which are peculiar to the developed states. First, the inclusion of females in higher education can be regarded as one of these practices (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). The introduction of on-job training, as well as adult training for teachers, is another example of initiatives (adopted from western countries) that have proved to be effective (Faour 2012).
Furthermore, the adoption of advanced technology has also had positive effects on the development of the Qatari educational sphere (Stewart 2012). The use of ICT has proved to be beneficial as students can learn more effectively and be ready to enter the labor market where the use of technology is one of the competitive advantages. Still, it should be considered that there is an individual approach to every specific case of globalization extension. This rule is especially relevant for the sphere of education for every system operates its own teaching strategies, profession-related human resources, and budget opportunities.
The investigation of globalization effects in Qatar demonstrates controversial opinions about the issue. The majority of improvements certify the fact that global integration accelerates the rates of socio-economic progress in the country. Still, it is believed that globalization deprives developing countries of certain privileges (Rizvi & Lingard 2009). For instance, many people believe that developed countries simply use the resources of developing countries and use them as markets for their products (Rizvi & Lingard 2009).
As a result, these countries have no proper access to the global market and cannot innovate and develop. Nonetheless, it is necessary to add that some countries of the Gulf including Qatar have benefited from the globalization. For example, the commerce opportunities and social as well as economic changes fostered by globalization enabled the country to achieve over 6% average rate of GDP growth during the 2000s, which is over the average rates in other countries of the region (Abed & Davoodi 2003).
The interrelation between education in Qatar and the principles of globalization acquired a stable character in the recent time. On the one hand, the Qatari educational system is adopting various strategies and ways typical of western countries’ education (Faour 2012). These practices involve the inclusion of females and provision of higher education opportunities to them, extensive use of on-job and adult learning, specific attention to such spheres as science management (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). On the other hand, the country is integrating into the global economy through the exchange of labor force as well as students, cultures, innovations.
The provision of scholarships to study abroad and the creation of various educational platforms like WISE also contribute to the country’s integration into the world economy (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). It is admired that the country became a leading partner of developed countries in comparison to the other Arab states. The renovations are sustained along several lines. First, they regard modification of policies. Second, they treat technological facilitation and learning tools (Stasz, Eide and Martorell 2007). Third, they relate to the general socio-cultural changes. One of these shifts relate to gender issues as the attitude towards higher education for females is changing, and women obtain more opportunities to enter the labor market (Golkowska 2014).
Educational Policies Transformation
The shape of educational policies is gradually changing on the basis of quality improvements, which take their roots from globalization. Specifically, the values, which were supported in the European countries at the end of the 20th century, inspired the government of Qatar for embracing a unique reformation, which guaranteed total access to school for women (Golkowska 2014).
The universal transformation, which influenced higher education in Qatar, was the transition from industrialization-centered study to the information-based educational programs. Mainly, due to the globalization alterations, the community of the country started contemplating their roles as the positions of global citizens rather than manual workers (Stasz, Eide and Martorell 2007). The influence of Western culture and landscape infrastructure alterations brought such studies as business, economics, and geography to the education of Qatar. Therefore, under the impact of global integration, the society of Qatar turns into an intelligent group of professionals, who strive for the optimal development of politics, economy, and culture in their country (Chinnammai 2005).
At the same time, there are certain concerns associated with globalization. One of the major questions raised is the influence of globalization on the cultural heritage as many people fear that the Qatari society will lose its traditions and will be completely westernized (Golkowska 2014). Besides, there are concerns that the country will be unable to overcome its reliance on expatriates’ labor that was brought by globalization. The basic reformations stem from WISE Forum establishment, which represents a modern initiative for embracing new educational tendencies (Wise initiative 2015).
One of the critical globalization effects, which reformed the parameters of teaching, as well as introduced some new educational approaches, was Internet access. Thus, the global network became the kind of link, which connected Qatar to the outer world. The program of distanced education that started together with the WISE Forum establishment, bridged the gap between the world leading educational practices and made them accessible for Qatar. The external practices, which became open for the educators from Qatar, served as the materials for the creation of new teaching platforms as well as delivered a wide range of new information resources to the sphere of learning.
The government launched a number of international exchanges and experience-sharing workshops. An example of these successful programs is the work of the Training Center sponsored by the Qatari government. The Center provides training to secondary school graduates for entering the labor market in the private sector (Stasz, Eide & Martorell 2007). Other programs include incentives that enable teachers of the country to receive an opportunity to communicate with their colleagues from the progressive countries, which contributed to the improvement of their professional skills. Moreover, the innovation stimulated extensive language learning.
The world of academic materials becomes heavily facilitated by technology. Both international and public schools in Qatar received stationary computers’ facilitation as well as included incorporated some learning techniques, which include video and audio presentations in the structures of the lesson. It is claimed that the country has too many social and economic problems such as poverty, unemployment, and resources stagnation that it seems inappropriate to waste state budget on computers. Still, it must be noted that Internet provides sources of information, which may be useful for introducing improvements in Qatar. Therefore, the use of technology in the context of globalization is critical (Rizvi & Lingard 2009).
Socio-Cultural Alterations under the Influence of Globalization
Global integration always equals the changes in social and cultural patterns of particular states. Thus, every international policy or rule, which targets the other country, contributes to immediate alterations in perception of some ideas and notions. The feature is applied to Qatar as well. The renovation has two sides, though. Some people deduce that the values of American and European cultures, which impact the citizens of Arab countries, promote some changes, which devastates the foundation of Arab culture and religion (Misra 2012).
Thus, the world of free Internet access opened up a new dimension for Arab children. The improvement of education reveals some positive socio-cultural changes. Mainly, through global trends, the system of student-centered approaches, as well as teacher-student relations, improved. People’s changing attitudes towards education as well as the high percentage of literate people can be regarded as central indicators of the success of the approach chosen (Survey of economic and social developments 2009).
Conclusion: Searching an Optimal Formula of Globalized Education
In this paper, the fundamental effects of global integration are reflected. The work employs an example of a progressive Arab country and explores the tendencies of its globalized education on the example of WISE Forum initiative introduction. On the basis of the study outcomes, one may conclude that globalization provides a critical link between developing countries and the developed ones. Such initiatives assist the lagging states in finding solutions to their economic, political, and social problems. Concerning education, it becomes that global integration is a source of technological improvements and socio-economic modifications. For instance, the Qatari educational system has transformed significantly as many people obtained access to it, educators’ training is increasing, and global interchange of ideas and practices through students’ exchange is taking place.
Extensive use of technology also contributes to the development of the educational system. Still, according to the estimation of Qatar’s background and problematic spheres, it must be concluded that the employment of globalization tendencies is quite often irrational since the budget allocations are directed to spheres, which do not require immediate renewals. At the same time, the sphere of medicine suffers from the lack of facilitation, treatment tools, medical appliances, and human resources. Therefore, in this respect, Qatar may be called a global village, for it strives to start state renovation but still remains on the stage of the developing country with the high level of poverty and dictatorship. Consequently, it is a primary challenge for the global society to match the primary needs of the poor countries to globalization opportunities so that to extract maximum profit from the alterations.
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