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‘’Education for a New Era’’ Reform in Qatar: challenges of the implementation

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Abstract:

‘’Education for a New Era’’ Reform in Qatar: challenges of the implementation
Objectives of the study:
In 2001, Qatar began a comprehensive education reform Education for a New Era (ENE) based on the RAND Corporation’s recommendations for building an educational system that would meet the country’s changing needs. One important aspect of the reform has been the introduction of the National Professional Standards (NPS) for school leaders. NPS have had a significant impact on leaders’ roles. The school model, post-reform, has increased both leader autonomy and accountability. This study explores school leader challenges in implementing the educational reform and their response to these difficulties.
Main theoretical framework:
This study considers the perceptions of leaders in relation to their new job descriptions in the following six crucial areas:
1. Leading and managing change
2. Leading and developing people and teams
3. Developing and managing school-community relations;
4. Developing and managing resources
5. Reflecting on, evaluating and improving leadership and management
6. Developing, communicating and reporting on the strategic vision and aims of the school community.
In particular, my work locates these perceptions within teacher and leader responses to the reform. In so doing, this study brings contextual insight into the reform’s relevance, applicability and practicability in Qatar’s school communities. Specifically, it considers the ways in which school leaders manage the change, lead their team, manage relations between school and its local community, as well as manage and develop resources.

As leaders perceptions are at the heart of my study, I take a thematic approach, using change models as a theoretical framework. This approach recognizes the importance of considering perceptions for the successful implementation of change. Because leaders are key to carrying out the changes associated with the reform, identifying leaders’ concerns in relation to innovation is, according to Hord et al. (1987), essential in facilitating the reform's requirement.
Research design:
I conducted the research in four schools in Qatar. Data gathering methods included interview, observation, document analysis and field notes. The resulting case studies were written as portraits of each school and their leaders.
Results:
All the leaders in the four schools faced different challenges in leading the change. Some of these challenges were school-based issues such as interruptions and resistance to change. Also present are external pressures such as parental involvement and dealing with the Supreme Education Council (SEC). These four challenges are all related to working with people inside and outside schools. The experiences described by the school leaders in this study reflect the socially driven transformational organisations described by Leithwood et al. (1999) and Muijs et al. (2006), who report that the most problematic challenges for head teachers relate to dealing with the people in their organisations.

Some of the causes of these challenges, such as lack of organization, heavy workload and lack of communication between the school and the SEC are similar across the four schools. However, some of these reasons are institution-specific, for example, lack of organization is evident in one school, while PD and teacher training are greater difficulties in another school.

The school leaders were trying to manage the internal ones, for instance understanding the reasons behind any resistance and trying to support the resisters. However, they faced difficulties in dealing with the external ones, such as the SEC. Although positivity towards the change could minimize the side effects of these challenges, the school needed more support in managing their tasks under the reform and sustaining it. Finally, the leaders’ way of dealing with the reform was also a factor in reducing the possibility of more challenges. Involving leaders in the decision making, for example, and organizing their time without interruptions, can create a more supportive working environment.
Significance of the study:
Based on the data in Qatar on education during the past three decades, as reported on the QNRF database , there has been very little critical discussion of school leader perceptions of the reform. As the reform is a new initiative, school leaders’ perceptions constitute a relatively unexplored research area, and a knowledge gap in this area is clear. My study aims to fill this gap. The reform's introduction encourages researchers to provide information to contribute to an enhanced understanding of the large-scale change involved. School leaders’ roles can make a critical difference in implementing the reform and it is vital that their perceptions are not ignored.

Author's Keywords:

leadership and change
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
URL:
http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717265_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Alfadala, Asma. "‘’Education for a New Era’’ Reform in Qatar: challenges of the implementation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717265_index.html>

APA Citation:

Alfadala, A. E. , 2014-03-10 "‘’Education for a New Era’’ Reform in Qatar: challenges of the implementation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717265_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: ‘’Education for a New Era’’ Reform in Qatar: challenges of the implementation
Objectives of the study:
In 2001, Qatar began a comprehensive education reform Education for a New Era (ENE) based on the RAND Corporation’s recommendations for building an educational system that would meet the country’s changing needs. One important aspect of the reform has been the introduction of the National Professional Standards (NPS) for school leaders. NPS have had a significant impact on leaders’ roles. The school model, post-reform, has increased both leader autonomy and accountability. This study explores school leader challenges in implementing the educational reform and their response to these difficulties.
Main theoretical framework:
This study considers the perceptions of leaders in relation to their new job descriptions in the following six crucial areas:
1. Leading and managing change
2. Leading and developing people and teams
3. Developing and managing school-community relations;
4. Developing and managing resources
5. Reflecting on, evaluating and improving leadership and management
6. Developing, communicating and reporting on the strategic vision and aims of the school community.
In particular, my work locates these perceptions within teacher and leader responses to the reform. In so doing, this study brings contextual insight into the reform’s relevance, applicability and practicability in Qatar’s school communities. Specifically, it considers the ways in which school leaders manage the change, lead their team, manage relations between school and its local community, as well as manage and develop resources.

As leaders perceptions are at the heart of my study, I take a thematic approach, using change models as a theoretical framework. This approach recognizes the importance of considering perceptions for the successful implementation of change. Because leaders are key to carrying out the changes associated with the reform, identifying leaders’ concerns in relation to innovation is, according to Hord et al. (1987), essential in facilitating the reform's requirement.
Research design:
I conducted the research in four schools in Qatar. Data gathering methods included interview, observation, document analysis and field notes. The resulting case studies were written as portraits of each school and their leaders.
Results:
All the leaders in the four schools faced different challenges in leading the change. Some of these challenges were school-based issues such as interruptions and resistance to change. Also present are external pressures such as parental involvement and dealing with the Supreme Education Council (SEC). These four challenges are all related to working with people inside and outside schools. The experiences described by the school leaders in this study reflect the socially driven transformational organisations described by Leithwood et al. (1999) and Muijs et al. (2006), who report that the most problematic challenges for head teachers relate to dealing with the people in their organisations.

Some of the causes of these challenges, such as lack of organization, heavy workload and lack of communication between the school and the SEC are similar across the four schools. However, some of these reasons are institution-specific, for example, lack of organization is evident in one school, while PD and teacher training are greater difficulties in another school.

The school leaders were trying to manage the internal ones, for instance understanding the reasons behind any resistance and trying to support the resisters. However, they faced difficulties in dealing with the external ones, such as the SEC. Although positivity towards the change could minimize the side effects of these challenges, the school needed more support in managing their tasks under the reform and sustaining it. Finally, the leaders’ way of dealing with the reform was also a factor in reducing the possibility of more challenges. Involving leaders in the decision making, for example, and organizing their time without interruptions, can create a more supportive working environment.
Significance of the study:
Based on the data in Qatar on education during the past three decades, as reported on the QNRF database , there has been very little critical discussion of school leader perceptions of the reform. As the reform is a new initiative, school leaders’ perceptions constitute a relatively unexplored research area, and a knowledge gap in this area is clear. My study aims to fill this gap. The reform's introduction encourages researchers to provide information to contribute to an enhanced understanding of the large-scale change involved. School leaders’ roles can make a critical difference in implementing the reform and it is vital that their perceptions are not ignored.


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