Adult illiteracy in the year 2000 was estimated at 18.7% (males, 19.5%; females, 16.8%) and continues to decline. Education is compulsory and free for all residents 6–16 years of age; a 100% attendance rate for primary levels is the immediate target. As of 1996, there were 174 schools with 5,864 teachers and 53,631 pupils at the primary level. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at nine to one. Secondary level schools had approximately 4,000 teachers and 38,594 pupils in the same year. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 13 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, 95% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 78% of those eligible attended secondary school. All children receive free books, meals, transport, clothing, and boarding facilities if required. Scholarships for higher education abroad are given to all who qualify. As of 1995, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.3% of GDP.
The leading higher educational institution is the University of Qatar, founded at Doha in 1973. In addition to faculties of education, science, humanities, social sciences, Islamic studies, and engineering, the university comprised a Language Teaching Institute (founded in 1972) and a Regional Training Center, established in 1979 with UNDP technical assistance. Enrollment in all higher-level institutions in 1997 was 8,475 pupils, with 643 teaching staff.