Posted on November 20, 2016

Qatar British Business Forum (QBBF) has hosted a summit for education leaders in English speaking schools in Qatar and audience guests. The session acted as a productive and positive platform for discussing topics of importance from curriculum, international accreditation, parental engagement, the importance of sport and academia, and developing community roots.

The event at The W Hotel & Residences, West Bay, was attended by Mr Ajay Sharma, British Ambassador to Qatar, and hosted by QBBF committee member Hussein Damirji. Participants on the panel included local education leaders; Dr. Steffen Sommers, Principal, Doha College; Sean Sibley, Headteacher, DESS; Lana Al Aghbar, Lower Elementary Principal, America School of Doha; Dr Terry Creissen OBE, Executive Principal, Compass International School; Nick Prowse, Principal, Sherborne, and Paul Bridges, Principal, Royal Guildford Grammar School.

Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Qatar, Mr Ajay Sharma, commented: “I am pleased to see so much support for this Education Qatar British Business Forum event. Education is key to building strong foundations for future generations. This is an area where the UK has expertise and experience, and already enjoys a strong relationship with Qatar. I would like to see that relationship grow for the benefit of both of our countries.” QBBF Chairman and CEO of the Rumaillah Group, Emad Turkman MBE also said: “The summits focal topic is Education, an area Qatar has invested billions of pounds in, an investment in the future of our children and the country we live in. Education is and will always be a critical component of the aspirations for Qatar National Vision 2030 and we hope to address what the English speaking schools are doing in order to support its success.”

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An important element discussed during the event was the relationship between parents and the school. Choosing a school is one of the most significant decisions a parent will make and its imperative parents feel empowered by the school’s philosophy. Following this, there needs to be a constant dialogue between teachers and parents to ensure a smooth and successful academic experience. Schools in Qatar are part of creating the next generation of ‘global citizens’ who through the international accreditation and unique schooling environment, will be enabled to provide a productive and positive impact locally and globally in the future.

Sports being a dominant focus in Qatar, the panel were asked by one audience member about the facilities and prospects for young athletes to excel. The key outcome was education leaders recognise the value of providing quality sporting opportunities and the benefits of competing to promote self-esteem, as well as learn and experience teamwork, amongst many others. The region has a number of events across a number of disciplines, but the panel agreed an aspiration for more synergy for local inter-school competitions, and in particular engaging more young Qataris by encouraging community sports.

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In discussing how English speaking schools are embracing the Arab culture and community into their curriculums, the overwhelming response from all panelists was the importance of providing a rich education environment that provides children with a grounding of the local culture, language and history. To embrace the local community and to offer parents intending to send their children abroad for schooling, the best education for young students to stay here in Qatar instead. Hussein Damirji, Qatar British Business Forum committee member, noted: “We hope this summit will be the first of many series focusing on areas that are critical for the future of the expat community in Qatar and for Qatar itself. In addition to QBBF’s role in fostering joint economic relations between Britain and Qatar, we are also a platform for wider community engagement, as seen during the discussions at the summit.”

The summit comes after the recent announcement to cope with the growing population in the country, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education has set a plan to open 99 government schools by 2030 and to encourage investors to establish more private schools. The country has now a total of 535 government and private schools that have enrolled over 327,566 students in the three levels of education- primary, preparatory and secondary. The session ended with the panel praising the Private Schools’ Office of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for their positive relationship and support within the English speaking schools in Qatar.

For more information on QBBF visit http://www.qbbf.com/.

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