Before the discovery of oil, Qatar had only a few primary schools for boys, scattered throughout the country. Today, education is free for all citizens and for the children of foreigners working for the government. Compulsory education consists of six years of primary school, three years of intermediate school and three years of secondary school. Kindergartens are privately run and charge tuition fees. Boys and girls study separately.

Many foreign communities have established their own schools. The largest are the schools for the Indian community. These schools receive some financial aid from the government, but not enough to cover all costs, so they charge tuition fees.

The school day begins at 7:00 a.m. and usually ends at 1:00 p.m. Instruction in state schools is in Arabic, but some private schools that cater to foreigners teach in other languages. English is introduced in the last two years of primary school and taught throughout intermediate and secondary school.

At the secondary level, Qatari schools offer programs specializing in religion, commerce and technical studies for male students. Women may attend teacher-training institutions. Special language-training programs are available for government workers. Many adult education courses, including literacy classes, are offered in Qatar.

Qatar's school system has expanded rapidly, and the country's education budget is large. In 1973, two teacher-training faculties, one for men and one for women, were established. A few years later, faculties of humanities, social studies, Islamic studies, engineering and science were added, and the University of Qatar was created. It has continued to expand ever since and now occupies a large campus just outside Doha.

   Did you know?
Before the 1970s, boys and girls studied different subjects, but in recent years, the curricula for boys' and girls' schools have been the same. Today, girls often outperform boys academically.
The university campus is divided into two sections, one for men and the other for women. Each section has its own lecture theatres, laboratories and other support facilities. At present, there are more women attending university than men.

   Did you know?
Each year about a thousand Qataris receive government scholarships to pursue higher education in other Arab countries, Europe or North America.