Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 13/06/2007, pg. 65

TEACHERS from Queensland are playing a major role in education reform in Qatar, a small and extremely wealthy country in the Persian Gulf.

Under a contract with Education Queensland International, more than 20 teachers are helping schools move away from traditional chalk’n’talk classes to the student-centred learning and multi-media teaching styles used in Australia.

The teachers, including principals, deputy principals and retired teachers, are working at three schools for boys in Doha, a school south of the capital and another in Ras Laffan.

Queenslanders Jan Wilson and Gary Barnes were guest speakers last month at a national forum in Qatar to launch the new professional standards code for teachers.

EQI would not divulge the value of the contract, citing confidential commercial reasons, but it was believed to be the largest overseas contract won by Education Queensland’s commercial export arm.

EQI has earned more than $88 million since 1985. Teachers have worked in 22 countries, including China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates.

Reforms in Qatar were instigated by Sheikha Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, the wife of the country’s sheik, who was appointed education minister so she could oversee the modernisation program.

The reform aims to make English the primary language used in schools because of the diverse student population, which includes children from Qatar, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.

Under the reform program, the Supreme Education Council is establishing government-funded independent schools from kindergarten to secondary schools and introducing annual testing to measure student learning and school performance.

Qatar has enormous petroleum and natural gas deposits that have generated vast wealth for the population of 900,000 people.

Copyright 2007 / Courier Mail