Posted on April 08, 2011

Riz Khan, Al Jazeera English presenter, moderating the session on Healthcare and Education at the Business and Investment Forum held in New York asked a question that struck a chord with the panellists: “What about the next generation?”

Dr Sheikha Abdulla Al Misnad, President of Qatar University, responded that, “Education is one of the first priorities in Qatar. The education sector is one of first sectors to have undergone major reform plans,” she stated. “For the last 15 years, Qatar has invested so much in its education system. Educational reform in Qatar is the most comprehensive and most broad reform in the region,” she added.

She explained that K-12 educational reforms are one part of development, while the government has sought to establish higher education institutions by inviting Ivy League universities in Education City. Further, the country is developing post-graduate community colleges like North Atlantic. “All has been done for the purpose of preparing and equipping the future generation of Qataris with the right skills for the global marketplace,” she stated.

Reflecting on the vast investments undertaken by the country, it “all means nothing if Qatar can’t have its own people who are skilled enough to protect its wealth and develop its future,” she said.

In Qatar, major emphasis is placed in science and technology. A student from Education City commented on Qatarisation, the national labour policy in Qatar, acting as hurdle for non-Qataris in the job market. Dr Sheikha responded that the Qatari job market is very wide especially with all of the projects and expansions that have been presented throughout the two-day Forum, which require a large amount of manpower.

“Qatar’s population is very small… only 18 percent of the population. So there is a large amount of non-Qataris in the workforce, “ she said. “There is an unwritten intention or direction… that yes, Qataris, because they are nationals, will be given priorities in the labor market but the next group who should be given priority are the students who graduated from Qatari universities…Most of all, those who have been born in Qatar and lived there all their lives,” she added.

source: The Peninsula