The source of prosperity for any society depends highly on the education and development of its youth. For this reason, the wealth of a society lies within its teachers. Islam has emphasized the importance of the teacher and their role in the growth of society. Let us learn about one of the leading Qatari women who contributed to education and played a prominent role in it. So, who is Maryam Mohammed Abdullah Al-Noaimi?
I was born in Doha in 1960 and was raised by a loving family as the youngest child in the household. From the beginning of my childhood, my parents raised me on strict moral virtues, and I was educated in the schools of our beloved country. I graduated in 1978 from high school with distinction, where I was placed tenth place in my batch. My dream was to become a pediatrician, and the plan was that I would leave on a scholarship to Riyadh and then to Damascus to study medicine. I managed to spend a year and a half abroad, but due to family circumstances and my mother’s wish to be beside me, I was forced to return home and start a new path to better serve our country. Teaching was the last profession I had in mind, I never aspired to be a teacher. Yet the circumstances that I was going through ruled out my profession of choice, and so I was forced to apply for a teaching position at the Ministry of Education. The Ministry encouraged Qatari teachers to work, and still do, as this field was dominated by expatriate female teachers. I worked at Al-Gharafa School for girls, where my scientific specialization got me assigned to teach mathematics for grade 4 and science for grades 5 and 6. My love for this profession began to flourish and bloom and my dream was reshaped. I began attending the college of education at Qatar University, where I majored in mathematics and science. I was still working while I was getting my degree, and so I enrolled in evening classes so that I can go to work in the morning. I studied for three years to gain a teaching diploma, during which I got married and had my first child. My dream never stopped though, so I decided to continue my studies to obtain a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and science. Despite the pressures of work and my family life, I managed to prevail and persist. I was also lucky to have the support of my beloved mother (may Allah have mercy on her) and my husband to overcome these difficulties, and was able to take extra hours during the afternoon to finish up the course load. I also studied in the summer, and was able to complete a three-year program in two years and graduate in 1987. After graduating, I continued to work at Al-Gharafa School for nine years and then moved to Umm Salal School because it was closer to my house. I worked there for three years as a teacher, but was later promoted to work as a counselor. My new position carried greater responsibility, where before my mission was to guide students, but now it was to guide and coach teachers and educators of this generation. As a counselor, I started reading and learning more about educational matters, which I would incorporate into workshops that I would normally give to teachers. These workshops later led to my selection, along with my colleagues, to work at the Institute of Educational Training for about a year. At the Institute, our role was to train graduates from Qatar University who do not have educational training and groom them for teaching. In 1999, the scientific schools’ project (Al-Bayan for girls and Omar for boys) was opened under the guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. In the same year, scientific elementary schools were also introduced and were called developed schools (they were Mozah bint Mohammed school and Jouan School). After several thorough interviews conducted by a committee at the Ministry of Education, I was selected to be an educational supervisor over the science curriculum. My job as an educational supervisor in this project was difficult in the beginning as we faced several challenges. I was assigned to develop math and science curricula for schools, but the curriculum that was delivered to us was in English and everyone that was involved in the development of the curriculum studied their respective fields in Arabic. Many sleepless nights were spent on simply translating English books to Arabic so that we could understand them, to later then compose an English curriculum that matched them. The primary stage was inaugurated in 2000, and I continued to work in both Mozah School for Girls and Joaan School for boys for two years. The development of students’ competence was evident, which proved the success of the project and delighted Her Highness Sheikha Mozah. This success led to many expansions in these advanced schools. The number of scientific primary schools increased, where it reached six schools (Omar ibn al-Khattab -first and second branches- and Al-Bayan -first and second branches as well- along with Mozah and Joaan schools). Due to the increasing pressure of supervising this large number of scientific schools, the idea of separating them was raised, and each person that was involved in their inception was forced to choose only one school to work at instead of moving around the different branches. I chose to stay at Omar Bin Al Khattab School because I loved the school and its students dearly. In Omar Bin Al Khattab I was promoted from Academic Director to Administrative Director, a position that I worked in for fourteen years. After spending thirty-seven years working in one of the noblest career there is, I decided to retire and pave my way in a different path in 2018.
What was your favorite aspect of working in a school?
I loved both the teachers working under my wing and my students very much. I loved the teachers as I considered them to be my daughters, and I guided them in the same manner a mother guides her daughters in their work with love and firmness. That is why I believe many of them were distinguished in their field of work, and were equally innovative in the educational shaping of the new generations. My love for my students was also from a motherly perspective, where I treated them as if they were my children. My happiness would always increase tenfolds whenever I saw the extent of my effect on their lives, even as the years pass by. I would always attend their high school graduation even though I was still working as a primary school director. The feeling that I would get in these ceremonies is indescribable, a mixture of pride and happiness that I still carry today.
What encouraged you to pave your own way and start your project “Grandma’s House”
My retirement from school was a very difficult choice, because I worked there for such a long time that it became a part of me. I also held my love towards students and teachers close to my heart, and so leaving them made it even more difficult for me to retire. I hesitated a lot, but I was sure it was time to turn a new page in my life and so I decided to open a nursery “Grandma’s House”. I decided to open this project because I noticed an increase of students with autism in school, and most of them had parents who are too busy to look over them and would leave their upbringing to the domestic worker. The project was named “Grandma’s House” based on the idea that the grandmother’s house is always a source of safety and affection for the child, and a grandmother is also known for trying to instill good morals in her grandchildren. These two different aspects that stem from grandmothers, in general, are things that we aim to achieve and provide through this project. Essentially, “Grandma’s House” is a project run by a Qatari grandmother seeking to help raise the new generation of children, and we focus on children ages 2 months – 4 years old. Our curriculum is built around learning through play and activities, and children get to acquire knowledge such as Noorani Qa’idah, English and Qur’an before entering kindergarten.
What is your advice for women in Qatar?
Education is one of the most important areas that Qatari women should focus on. Nowadays, most schools lack Qatari female teachers, that is why my advice to them is to enter the field of education. Teaching sincerely, and conscientiously is the foundation of the success and development of nations.
- Interview written by Fatima AL Naimi.
- Interview was edited to improve readability and flow.