Principals' Perspectives on Faculty Diversity in Qatar's Government Schools

Year: 2017

Author: Romanowski, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Like many Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) experiencing globalization and modernization, Qatar is undergoing numerous economic, social and educational changes. In particular, the unprecedented economic growth "has created an influx of high- and low-skilled expatriate workers, creating a major unbalance in the population and labour force between nationals and expatriates" (Al-Ammari & Romanowski, 2016, p. 1539). The implication of this diverse workforce is evident in Qatar's government schools where a mere 27 percent of teachers are Qatari, 66 percent are other Arab nationals and 6 percent non-Arab teachers (Evaluation Institute, 2012). These teachers hold different cultural values, belief systems and educational philosophies then those in Qatar (Ellili-Cherif & Hadba, 2016).

Schools receive benefits from a diverse faculty. Gardenswartz and Rowe (2009) argue when diversity is fostered, developed and managed well, both faculty and students benefit with achievement, growth and success. The students benefit not only because of the opportunity for the development of positive relationships but a diverse faculty helps students educationally (Collins & Kritsonis, 2006). Although diversity enriches schools, it can cause also conflict (Madsen & Mabokela, 2005) and "when ignored or mismanaged, it brings challenges and obstacles that can hinder your organizations ability to succeed" (Gardenswartz & Rowe, 2009, p. 36).

Diversity is big challenge for principals in Qatar's government schools where 99 percent of the principals are Qatari nationals (Evaluation Institute, 2012) and teachers represent a wide range of nationalities and cultures. Despite the large body of research on school leadership and student diversity, little is written about the role of principals and faculty diversity especially in the context of GCC countries. With that in mind, this study provides a unique perspective on the issue of diversity in Qatar's government schools. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to examine the perspectives of 20 Qatari principals regarding their understandings of diversity, the influence of faculty diversity on the school, the challenges they face regarding a diverse faculty and how they, as principals address faculty diversity. Findings demonstrate their understanding of diversity is primarily linked to nationality. Principals indicated positive and negative influences of a diverse faculty and they described the cultural conflicts arising that involved teachers, parents and students. Finally, principals provided discussion regarding how they as educational leaders approached faculty diversity. Based on these findings several recommendations are provided.