By TBY | Qatar | Nov 16, 2017
Qatar has a long pipeline of school projects ahead, and the new legislation introduced by the state aims to trigger the attention of private investors for the construction of education centers.
HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, opened the session of the 45th Advisory Council in late 2016 with the assurance that Qatar would issue a PPP law to involve the private sector in a list of projects implemented by the government. Aimed at following HH’s words to the Advisory Council, TBY organized a roundtable in partnership with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce under the name “The implementation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the State of Qatar” in April 2017.
TBY’s discussion was opened by HE Sultan bin Rashid Al Khater, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. While he stressed the importance of PPPs for the overall economic development of the country, HE Al Khater highlighted the key role this model could have in the pipeline of social infrastructure the peninsula has planned ahead. A number of PPP opportunities had already been identified in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, especially in the construction of new schools. Among the USD20 billion opportunities across all sectors, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce expects 11 private schools and 50 public schools to be developed in public-private cooperation.
As spending in the 2017 budget is set to decline to USD5.4 billion, the Qatari government aims to involve all players in the development of national infrastructure. In this context, PPPs emerge as the solution to ease the strain of funding a pipeline of social projects, including education centers. In August 2016, HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce announced that Qatar was looking to increase FDI in the development of the country’s infrastructure projects. In this regard, a newly established legal framework governing the use of PPPs should provide an additional level of comfort to foreign investors as well as greater guidance to government entities wishing to undertake PPP projects.
The Public Works Authority, Ashghal, announced at TBY’s event that it will invest USD20 billion in infrastructure during the next five to seven years. Eng. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Assistant President of Ashghal, recalled a precedent in the development of schools between the public and private sectors. In 2001, Qatar overhauled its K-12 system and established its first charter schools, a BOT-type project whereby the government finances the school’s construction and awards a three-year operation contract to a private player. More than 40 local independent schools opened after 2004, serving about one-third of all K-12 students in Qatar.
However, the model did not perform successfully, and the quality of primary and secondary education in Qatar was brought into question. For this reason, a new law was issued in May 2016 calling for the establishment of public schools in Qatar. The incoming legislation stipulates that the government will open public schools and provide them with the necessary funds to educate and raise the younger generation of Qataris. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education will regulate these schools and appoint their administrative and academic staff. It will also supervise and develop the schools to ensure high-quality education.
The new legislation is expected to act as a catalyst for the development of Qatar’s education sector. The private sector’s technologies and innovation in public schools will result in a better array of tools and sources to improve the country’s K-12 education and cater to the growing demand of school places in the Gulf. At the same time, PPPs will help diversify sources of funding for infrastructure projects through private sector financing, which will have a positive effect on the public coffers. The implementation of PPPs in the construction of schools will help reduce the government’s burden of capital expenditure and increase FDI, as well as many other advantages such as greater accountability, efficiency and knowledge transfer. At the end of the day, the education of new generations is a matter that involves everyone.