Language policies in education in Qatar between 2003 and 2012: from local to global then back to local
The State of Qatar, in cooperation with the RAND Corporation, launched in 2002 an ambitious educational reform and development plan, Education for a New Era, which included, among other things, the instating of English as the medium of instruction (EMI) in mathematics, science, and technology in the K-12 system. From the start, the reform plan came under fire locally on grounds related either to ideological concerns or to implementational practicalities. Results of students in all grades on national examinations, which the Supreme Educational Council (SEC) oversaw, showed that a very small percentage of students (8–20%) had mastered the set learning outcomes in any of the main four subjects (Mathematics, Sciences, English, and Arabic). These results showed clearly that the reform initiative had failed to deliver on promises of improved student performance (Kirkpatrick and Barnawi, in: Kirkpatrick (ed) English language education in the Middle East and North Africa, Springer, Switzerland, 2017). In 2012, these perceived failures led the SEC to issue a decree reinstating Arabic as the language of instruction in grades K-12 in schools as well as at Qatar University in all areas of social sciences. The present study examined the problems that had caused the failure of the reform initiative through surveying, by means of structured interviews, the opinions of teachers at independent, public, and international schools in addition to the opinions of some SEC officials; the total number of interview hours was 34 conducted with 24 interviewees. The study identified the following issues as factors that had actively contributed to the demise of the experiment of using EMI in mathematics, science and technology: attitudes of stakeholders; teachers’ qualifications and preparedness to take up such a daring task; the complexity of the context of teaching; and the manner of introducing the reform agenda.
KeywordsLanguage policy in education English as medium of instruction Arabic sociolinguistics Language as a human right, language and identity
Funding was provided by Qatar University (Grant No.: CAS08042). Part of this paper has been written while Eiman Mustafawi has been a Visiting Scholar at the Centre of Islamic Studies at University of Cambridge, UK.
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