Theses Doctoral

Modernity Aspirations: The Struggle of Qatari Male Public High School Students to Become Successful Academically

Al-Thani, Hessa

The small Gulf nation of Qatar, despite its vast oil and gas wealth, suffers from a lack of human capital, particularly with respect to deficits in academic outcomes. Despite extensive investment in education, Qataris, and in particular Qatari boys, are still underperforming relative to international standards and relative to its wealth. In this dissertation I explored political, economic, and sociological approaches to investigate factors contributing to the underperformance of male Qatari students. Specifically, I have examined how male Qatari high school students internalize social values and economic and political policies as “signals” that inform and are reflected in their attitudes towards education and learning. I have hypothesized that Qatari male students who perceive the economic entitlement signals, and who perceive wasta (social status) as a venue of success, and who lack civic engagement, will do worse academically. My research focused on Qatari males attending public high schools in Qatar, which are operated by the Ministry of Education, and examined their performance on national standardized tests. To investigate my research question, I conducted a quantitative study using an original survey instrument. The target population included a representative sample of Qatari high school students who were in grades 10, 11, and 12 in the public schools in Qatar. My analysis of the data found mixed results in which economic signals appear to be strongly associated with male academic performance. Furthermore, Qatari high school boys’ perceptions of the value of wasta was correlated with their achievement on test scores. Surprisingly, Qatari high school boys’ perceptions of civic engagement did not appear to associate with Qatari males’ academic underperformance.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Politics and Education
Thesis Advisors
Henig, Jeffery
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2017