Qatar has come a long way from being a small Arab state with very limited options for higher learning to a state where anything, in terms of education, is possible.
Students today can choose from a multitude of universities catering to all the modes and curriculums of education that one can wish to study. Schools boast of facilities that could outmatch any university in the world, to programme-specific institutions that are competitive even on the global stage.
With an abundance of resources and a profusion of educational opportunities, Qatar promises the unique opportunity of making dreams come true. A good example of an institution that has played a major role in enriching the lives of students is Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST).
QAST is a high school designed to develop Qatar ’s next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields) innovators.
QAST provides co-ed experience for its students, accepting students from across Qatar who has a passion for science and technology and a desire to access the best universities and STEM-related careers.
To give our readers a window into this quaint educational institution, we conducted an interview with the college.
Qatar Academy for Science and Technology empowers students to become innovators who master the knowledge and skills required to create solutions for challenges that face Qatar and the world.
So, without further ado, let us dive right into the story and relish the knowledge we are about to receive.
Share the special initiatives taken at the institute to ignite the students’ minds to study diversified subjects.
QAST Team: At QAST, we have developed our own brand of high quality project-based learning, CRISP (Challenge – Research – Investigate – Synthesise – Prototype). Specific curriculum time is devoted each week in all grades to this approach, where we work with external experts to create a real-world driving question that challenges our students to find their own solutions.
Students are supported with visits to and from experts, field trips, skill-focused lessons, and time to research and develop their solutions, before presenting them to the experts that set the original problem.
Assessments are based on the students’ mastery of standards, including soft skills critical to their futures, rather than their ability to create a specific end-product. This gives them the choice, ownership and a true understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to complete projects. Projects last for eight weeks and include water security, food security, health, and transport.
In the first year of the initiative, students work on solutions for a local market, the country’s inaugural tram project, the region’s largest desalination plant, and on solutions to antibiotic resistance. In each project, students are required to lead, work as part of a team, and innovate as they develop their own solutions. Built on constructionist research and taking best practices from around the world, this initiative has been developed to meet the needs of a fast-growing and developing nation. It is a first in the region, moving from didactic teaching approaches to a student-centred discovery approach. Through the use of clear standards st (AERO, NGSS, ISTE and 21 Century Skills), students are clear on expectations and what they need to do to improve, growth is measured, and academic rigour is maintained.
Student choice and voice is central to our approach. It is the students who propose and develop their own solutions to the set challenges with no expectation of the format or content of their final product. Assessments are made on their level of mastery of standards, not on how well they produce a required piece of specified work. This allows students to show mastery in multiple ways from designing and building prototypes, presenting their knowledge and solutions to creating videos and websites.
At a recent lecture by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Ovais Sarmad, challenged QAST students to propose their solutions to key climate change-related issues and discuss their thinking on what can be done to influence positive global change. One student commented: “I’m really proud to have an opportunity like this, it’s a once in a lifetime experience and a huge deal to be educated about this topic at this level”.
How do you maintain student diversity in the campus and encourage international students to be a part of the school?
QAST Team: QAST operates within the Qatar Foundation, which is home to over 90 different nationalities represented by the students, faculty, and staff. Our community is uniquely integrated into an array of entities and centres that serve regularly, interact with the surrounding entities to enhance their learning experience and give them a sense of the real world. We are the only school in Qatar to offer both A and AP level qualifications, and the only STEM specialist school in Qatar to offer A levels. This provides international students with the vehicle they need to go on to study at their university of choice anywhere in the world.
Please tell us about the annual events and extra-curricular activities held at the campus to motivate students.
QAST Team: We continually look to take our learning beyond the classroom, this has included taking a leading role in Doha Learning Days where our students led teaching sessions for younger students, spoke publicly on female empowerment, and participated in a first-of-its-kind behavioural science curriculum developed with the Behavior4Development (B4D) team. Whilst our CRISP projects are in-built into the curriculum, these are also specifically designed to enthuse and motivate the students to engage in their learning through numerous real-world challenges, large and small.
QAST students are encouraged to take part in the many competitions with their peers, including Q-STEAM, robotics competitions, and the World Maths Challenge (WMC) in Korea. Additionally, opportunities to lead are provided through the Eco-Schools Council and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
What kind of financial aid and scholarship do you provide to the students?
QAST Team: The Select Education Committee of Qatar enables Qatari families to use academic vouchers towards our fees. In addition, thanks to our membership of the Qatar Foundation, financial support is offered to students who have been accepted into the QAST program whose families have experienced a financial shortfall or reverse of fortune. This process is handled independently, between Qatar Foundation and the applicants.
What are the diversified career opportunities students get after passing out from the school?
QAST Team: QAST was established by Qatar Foundation to offer a unique solution for students in Qatar looking to access some of the world’s leading universities or prepare for leading careers within science and technology.
The application of science and engineering knowledge and skills is widespread across an increasingly technologically sophisticated global economy and not limited to jobs classified in science and engineering. STEM graduates are versatile and can apply their knowledge and skills to a variety of STEM and non-STEM occupations.
The QAST curriculum has been created in consultation with leading universities to ensure our students are nurtured to use their knowledge and skills to innovate, create and build realworld solutions to real-world problems, whatever they may be. Combined with leadership opportunities, our approach offers students a unique opportunity for success on the global stage.
We have full time career guidance counselor for our students to help them choose the right academic path. To support this process, we invest in CIALFO to provide a rich database of colleges all over the world with financial aid data, course information, essay prompts, and deadlines for schools across the world.