As the Covid-19 pandemic proved highly disruptive to education worldwide, Qatar followed the trend of many countries by moving classes online and leveraging available funds. Two years on, the lessons learned from this period could have positive, permanent implications for the provision of education in the country.

Institution Closures

In early March 2020 the Ministry of Education and Higher Education ordered all public and private schools and universities to close after the virus began to spread rapidly, and worked to facilitate a smooth transition to remote lessons. Recognising that not all students would have access to the equipment needed to attend classes from home, the government provided tablets, laptops and other devices for qualified students in partnership with telecoms companies. The government also offered training to schools that had not previously implemented distance-learning systems.

Beyond equipment and training, the government established a YouTube channel for K-12 students, adult learners and individuals with disabilities, as well as two open-access TV channels. Two online platforms were also created. The first, Q-Learning, was rolled out in March 2020 for students in public schools. Students used the platform to get information, complete homework and attend remote video lessons with classmates. The second, Mzeed, was launched the following month to provide students with access to textbooks, interactive books and educational videos. Final exams for the 2019/20 academic year were held in classrooms with a maximum of eight students, spread out.


Students shifted to hybrid learning for the 2020/21 school year, and in September 2021 the Cabinet announced that restrictions on educational facilities would be lifted the following month. Classrooms were allowed to operate at 100% capacity, with social distancing, mask wearing, contact tracing and other measures implemented to ensure safety. The reopening was supported by the fact that around 70% of students between the ages of 12 and 17 were fully vaccinated as of September 2021.

The government unveiled a new e-learning platform for the 2021/22 academic year that utilises artificial intelligence to analyse students’ performance and behaviour, with the goal of providing more targeted teaching approaches to individual students based on their needs. The system is also designed to evaluate educators’ performance and improve communication between learning institutions and the families of students. Thanks to the systems in place to facilitate e-learning, the sector is able to shift quickly to periods of remote instruction in response to emerging threats, as was the case in early January 2022 when lessons in all public and private schools and kindergartens moved online for a week due to rising Covid-19 case numbers.

Funding & Innovation

Beyond the disruption to daily learning, the pandemic had a negative effect on investment as both public and private actors cut back on projects that were not deemed essential. The national budget allocation for education fell from QR22.1bn ($6.1bn) in 2020 to QR17.4bn ($4.8bn) in 2021, before rising slightly to QR17.8bn ($4.9bn) in 2022.

Private institutions – particularly in higher education – were also impacted by deferred enrolments as some students put education plans on hold. “The Covid-19 pandemic impacted both funding and income in the education sector,” Salem Al Naemi, president of University of Doha for Science and Technology, told OBG. Even so, this had some positive side effects. “Lower levels of funding have spurred innovation and adaptation to sustain standards and expansion. Creativity was required to leverage existing infrastructure to deliver the optimal blend of remote and on-site learning, a trend supported by increased digitalisation associated with the pandemic,” Al Naemi added. It is hoped that this period of creativity and innovation can lead to lasting solutions that will further strengthen the competitiveness of Qatar’s education system.