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Boredom a problem for Qatari students and science

Qatar's students say they are bored in class and not attracted to higher education, according to the findings of a survey of attitudes to higher education conducted by Qatar University.

Some 60 per cent of students surveyed were regularly bored by classes. Moreover, many said they did not see university attendance as attractive or even necessary, and 80 per cent of respondents did not think they would work in the knowledge economy, the survey showed.

The survey’s findings were reported on the opening day of Qatar Foundation’s annual research conference in Doha on 18 November.

Darwish Al-Emadi, a sociologist at Qatar University’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute, said that these findings were worrying, especially since Qatar is trying hard to address its lack of locally born scientists. During a debate on issues facing young Qataris, Al-Emadi said that Qatar’s development plans for 2020 and 2030, which rely on growth of local science, were in danger if students did not care about higher education.

“Qatar’s students are not motivated, in fact Qatari male students are the least motivated people in the country,” Al-Emadi told the audience. “If this is the case, our vision will never be realised.”

The survey, which was conducted by Al-Emadi, found that less than 10 per cent of respondents want to be engineers, but more than half want to work in the military—a career path considered to be better paid and carrying generous benefits than most other employment.

In response to these findings, the government of Qatar should do more to help parents and teachers awaken curiosity and a thirst for knowledge in children, the session heard. Mamoun Mobayed, a psychiatrist at the newly-established Behavioural Healthcare Centre in Doha, said the country needs to address a sense of entitlement among many young Qataris, who often believe that connections rather than a good education will get them the jobs they want.

Mobayed is part of a group tasked by Qatar’s government with developing a set of programmes on motivation that will start with school-aged children and involve their parents and teachers.

However, students attending the panel discussion had a different view about why their peers report such low levels of motivation. One student said that the quality of education in Qatar was not yet high enough to compete with international standards, thus negating the advantage of a university degree.

“You say we need more engineers, but what’s the point of studying engineering here when engineers from Europe and America get the best jobs,” he said, to the applause of his fellow students.