The Ministry of Education and Higher Education has added lessons on the Qatar blockade to the curriculum at all levels of the academic year 2018–19. 

The Qatar blockade has unexpectedly prolonged for over a year. Many believed that when the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt announced that they were cutting ties with Qatar on 5 June 2017, it would be temporary — a week or month, not more. Soon after, the blockading countries announced that they were severing all diplomatic ties with Qatar, which led to banning any Qatari airplanes and ships from entering their airspace and sea routes. Then the four blockading countries were joined by other countries – the Maldives, Mauritania, Jordan, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Tobruk-based Libyan government and Hadi-led Yemeni government.

The Qatar blockade continued to escalate in 2017 with the blockading countries insisting that Qatar, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), has violated many laws. The blockading countries then released a list of demands Qatar had to follow in order to end the blockade, which included Qatar reducing its diplomatic relations with Iran, stopping military coordination with Turkey and closing Al Jazeera Media Network, among other things. However, Qatar debunked these accusations and dismissed the document of demands.

Blessing in Disguise Doha Fire Station Blockade
Ghada Al Kater’s ‘Blessing in Disguise’ illustrated at Doha Fire Station, in reference to the Qatar blockade

More than a year later, in August 2018, the Minister of Education and Higher Education, HE Dr Mohammed Abdul Wahed Ali Al Hammadi, announced that lessons on the blockade will be added to the curriculum of public schools in Qatar at all levels of education. ‘The blockade taught us self-reliance, confidence, dependence on Allah, love of the country and loyalty to the leadership,’ said the Minister, as quoted by the media at a reception for Qatari teachers who joined the new academic year 2018–19.

‘The objective of our efforts is to design our developed curricula and to enable our students to acquire competencies required for the 21st century including knowledge, skills, personal skills, and possessing necessary skills such as higher thinking skills, deep learning and decision-making, while preserving Islamic values ​​and Qatari culture.’

A part of blockade lesson will be added in the curriculum of the first semester while its major portion will be part of the second semester. Including the Qatar blockade in the curriculum came into play as part of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education’s efforts to improve the school curriculum. According to the minister, the move aims at increasing the performances of students and teachers and improving the quality of education. 

Qatar’s History

Human habitation of Qatar dates as far back as 50,000 years. The peninsula was used almost continuously as a rangeland for nomadic tribes. In the subject of Qatar history, students are taught about the country’s history from the 1770s to the Ottoman Empire’s expansion to eastern Arabia, to the British Empire’s entry to the Persian Gulf and then the full independence of the State of Qatar in 1971. In addition, students are taught about the history of Qatari families and tribes as well as the history and structure of the royal family, Al Thani.

Key moments in Qatar’s history:

  • 1782: The earliest recorded of Zubara in the India Office Records
  • 1823: The first survey of Qatar’s coastline
  • 1868: Agreement between Qatar and the British
  • 1913: The Death of Sheikh Jassim
  • 1935: The Qatar Oil Concession
  • 1939: The discovery of oil in Qatar

Qatar’s History, Arabic and Islamic Teachings

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education has taken various measures to ensure development and progress in the country’s education system and the inclusion of Qatar history in schools. 

In 2017, the ministry announced that private schools in Qatar are required to teach Qatar’s history as well as Arabic, as a language. They are also required to provide Islamic lessons to Muslim students. In addition, private schools must provide each student with the original basic education sources issued by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. According to the policy, private schools must introduce non-Muslim students to Islamic culture through subjects such as Qatar history and Arabic. In addition to being committed to the religious principles and culture of Qatar, private schools must avoid the teachings of anything that contradicts Islamic teachings and the community values in selected school sources.

The schools are also required to ensure that experienced teachers, who specialise in these subjects, are hired. They are also required to implement national and international curriculum standards approved under the educational plan of the school; and provide main learning sources issued from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. However, these conditions vary in terms of use of resources and number of classes from schools offering Qatari curriculum and community and international schools.

Nationalism and Self-Sufficiency

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education is not only focused on pushing for the inclusion of Qatar history and Arabic language in schools. It is also ensuring that all school books are locally printed. ‘The school books for all subjects were locally printed to be available for the students on the first day of the academic year, which reflects the true meaning of self-sufficiency,’ said Fawzia Al Khater, the undersecretary for educational affairs at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in 2017 in reference to the academic year 2017–18. 

According to Al Khater, the ministry continues to review the curricula according to the latest methods in cooperation with local teams and cadres as well as external expertise and local bodies such as Qatar University (QU) and Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

In April 2018, QU launched the QU Press at the research complex, aimed at producing academic books which tackle Middle Eastern topics. The QU Press also aims to produce books discussing other contemporary scientific matters proposed by governmental institutions, centres, academics, researchers, graduate students and other institutions in Qatar, the region and the world.

The QU Press will act as a new unit within the Office of Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. The QU Press will help sustain the efforts, history and record of Qatar’s international academic conferences, through publishing conference proceedings. It will also have the capacity to support various centres in publishing academic and scientific reports and findings. QU Press will promote dialogue on contemporary and critical issues that are of the interest of society in Qatar and the region.

Author: Ola Diab

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