International Review of Education

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 173–189 | Cite as

The private–public literacy divide amid educational reform in Qatar: What does PISA tell us?



The education system in Qatar comprises of both private schools, which receive money through student fees, and public schools, which are fully government-funded. In the mid-2000s, Qatar started its transition towards an independent school model with the aim of eventually converting all public schools into government-supported independent schools. The idea was to give public schools more autonomy in terms of hiring decisions, adoption of curriculum and textbooks, and budget spending, enabling them to emulate some of the private schools’ strategies for turning out successful students. This study examines evidence from the 2006–2012 administrations of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in Qatar in order to evaluate whether or not recent educational reform efforts in this country have succeeded in bridging the literacy divide between private and public schools. The results, presented in a number of detailed tables and discussed in the last part of the article, indicate that there is a significant difference in key literacy skills between the two types of schools. Private schools were found to outperform their public counterparts in areas such as mathematics, reading and science, both before and after controlling for important student-level differences, and this gap has evidently persisted from 2006 to 2012.


Public school Private school Qatar Literacy gap PISA ANCOVA 


Le fossé public/privé de l’alphabétisation durant la réforme éducative au Qatar : que nous révèle l’étude PISA ? Le système éducatif du Qatar compte à la fois des établissements privés qui se financent par les frais de scolarité, et des écoles publiques entièrement subventionnées par l’État. Au milieu des années 2000, le Qatar a entamé une transition vers un modèle d’établissement indépendant dans le but final de transformer toutes les écoles publiques en établissements autonomes financés par l’État. L’intention était d’attribuer aux écoles publiques une plus grande autonomie dans les décisions de recrutement, l’adoption des programmes d’études et manuels ainsi que dans l’utilisation budgétaire, leur permettant ainsi de s’inspirer de certaines stratégies des écoles privées pour former de bons élèves. La présente étude examine les données du Programme international pour le suivi des acquis des élèves (PISA) appliqué au Qatar entre 2006 et 2012, en vue d’évaluer si les récents efforts de réforme éducative dans le pays sont parvenus à combler le fossé de l’alphabétisation entre les écoles publiques et privées. Les résultats, présentés dans de nombreux tableaux détaillés et analysés dans la dernière partie de l’article, signalent une différence notable dans les compétences de base entre les deux types d’établissement. Les écoles privées sont plus performantes que leurs homologues publiques dans les matières telles que mathématiques, lecture et sciences, à la fois avant et après prise en compte d’importantes différences de niveaux scolaires, et ce fossé s’est à l’évidence maintenu entre 2006 et 2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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