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Fri 3 Jul 2009 09:45 AM

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UAE schools to extend hours amid late start - paper

Classes in gov't schools for '09-10 have been postponed until after holy Ramadan.

Many private schools in the UAE will extend their work hours or stay open on Saturdays to make up for the loss of days following the education ministry’s decision to postpone the reopening of the 2009-10 academic year.

Classes in government schools for the academic year 2009-2010 have been postponed until after the holy month of Ramadan the ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Though some parents welcomed the decision, some shared their concerns with Arabian Business, hoping that the move would not affect the study schedules of students.

The Gulf News daily reported that some private schools will seek the ministry's permission to work on Saturdays or have extended working hours. It quoted Ashok Kumar, CEO of Indian High School in Dubai, as saying that his school will have to work on Saturdays to compensate for the loss of days.

Schools will begin on September 23; administrative and teaching staff must report on September 13, the daily added.

Meanwhile in another interview with Arabian Business, a spokesperson at GEMS international school said that the enrolment figures next term are up 12 percent on last year, bucking the trend despite fears of an expatriate exodus from the UAE.

What do you think about the decision to postpone the reopening of schools? Share your views with us by posting a comment below:

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John Crawford 11 years ago

It is totally wrong to force this late start on Private Schools where the vast majority of children will not be fasting. If the time has to be made up, Saturdays should not be an option. The children and the teachers need to rest at weekends (not to mention the parents) and for younger children the school day is long enough at it is. What is even more ludicrous is the timing of this decision, when the schools have already broken up and most Head Teachers and Administrators are on holiday. Utter chaos is the result and nobody knows what is happening with their school, or will do I suspect for some time to come. Other countries manage to plan their school calendars two or three years in advance. Here no sooner do we think we know then the picture changes again. Come on Education Ministry get your act together.

E 11 years ago

Postponing the schools till after Ramadan is a great idea. In how many years this will happen again?? A few days delay is not the end of the world and anyway the schools will be off during eid, so no big deal.

J Grayson 11 years ago

I agree with J Crawford. Schools have a set curriculum which they are required to teach and a set number of days that they must be open. An extended week will be stressful for pupils, teachers and parents. The rest of the world (Muslim or secular) does not operate like this.

Alain Rioux 11 years ago

Only Government schools should be subjected to this decision. Many private schools teach a foreign curriculum which needs to be respected. 6 days a week is too much for kids, teachers and parents alike and hours are long enough as it is. I agree with some who say that most of the pupils are not muslim in some Private schools and these schools should be allowed to operate if they wish to do so. I have not talked to any expatriate from western countries who welcome this initiative yet. No disrespect intended, but as much as muslim people should be able to relax during the holy month, non muslim people should be able to get on with their activities as well.

Rob 11 years ago

As other readers have said, whilst I respect the decision this should be for Government schools only. My wife is a Teacher and we have 2 young children. She is stressed enough as it is with cramming work in in the ridiculously short terms and long holidays and now they're made even longer. Now she is supposed to work longer hours and maybe some Saturdays! Forget it. Not worth it. I respectfully request that His Highness Sheikh Mohammad has another debate on Facebook for private schools.

Mohammad 11 years ago

First of all, this is great idea....Many thanks. Parents can now concentrate on getting Ramadan ritual done instead of worrying every night about kids homework... To the non muslim community: I know this is very hard for you to understand and will potentially create stressful environment. While I really sympathize with you, please keep in mind that Ramadan is a full month of divine and spiritual activities. Extra prayers are done in groups on daily basis and it takes hours to finish them. In addition, Muslims gets up very early before sun rise and perform extra prayers that takes again aprox. couple of hours...as you can see, it takes huge effort and discipline to perform Ramadan. Now, having school at the same time will be extremely difficult and kids will not get the appropriate attention....thanks for your understanding and coexistance.

Omar 11 years ago

It seems the comments on this article are very reasonable and constructive either in favor or not. I believe Int'l schools in UAE should have the flexibility how Muslim schools can operate in the west. Fair is fair! UAE has been completely tolerant with other communities and religions. There are many churches, you can wear crosses and put crosses in your car, houses, dress how you wish and plenty of Int'l schools. Logically, 20 days should not be the end of the world by all academic standards. In France, schools used to start in October and they amended that several times. Sometimes mid sept. sometimes 1st week of sept., in the US schools start in the last week of August so it's not the end of the world to postpone 20 days! France just started last year a new system to have 4 academic days a week instead of 5 and everyone accepted that decision despite debates. Having 6 days a week is not helpful at all in my opinion. Longer days is not a good option either. Students will be completely exhausted although in France, schools used to be from 8:00 to 16:30 (in 1970/80)! Something worth noting, the summer break has always been 3 months except this year in UAE 2 months only!!! Western schools ended on July 30th so they should resume on Sept. 30th. My nephews finished school in the US on May 20th and will resume school in the last week of August (3 solid months). This should also be the case here esp. with the incredible heat in UAE + the holy month of Ramadan!! It should not be shorter!!! 20 days will not make a huge difference whatsoever. If Int'l schools decided to resume classes on Sept. 1st, let that be but they will stop anyways for Eid (4 days) so the difference is just 15 days!!!Or they do not want to have the Eid holiday either??!! I believe the Eid holiday is mandatory bcz it's a national holiday like the Thanksgiving in the U.S.! Saying that the decision would have disastrous consequences on the academic year is something completely far from the truth and logic. Saying that Int'l schools should have the liberty not to consider Ramadan is something more towards reality. I believe Int'l schools should have the choice bcz Muslim schools in the west have the choice as well although it would be logical, ethical, courtesy, and reasonable from the Int'l schools' side to consider the UAE decision bcz the UAE authorities have been completely flexible and supportive throughout.

Char 11 years ago

I fully respect the Country and what all comes with it. But we also need to respect routine and disciplene. All these years children went to school during Ramadhan, what is different now? We must not use Ramadham as an excuse... Ramadhan is part of religion, school is part of education.

arif 11 years ago

I have gone through the readers' comments. Here each one is condering his/her own convenience. Let the majority of UAE's fasting student community perform the holy fasting without the the heavy Sun beat of September and compensate the nearly 22 working days (approximately 132 hours) according to their convenience. Let's think of the majority's convenience and not ours alone. When we think about others comfort this world will be a superfine planet. Plz. think that it is the tender ones who go to school, not the parents. Plz. make the homework the headache of the students, not the parents's.

s s v 10 years ago

Eventhough I accept and respect the beliefs of all religions,the Ministry's declaration of extending the summer holidays in order to facilitate fasting doesn't seem to be a wise and fair decision. I feel the following reasons for this 1. the school timings are already shortened from 8.30 to 1.30(5 hours) during ramadaan 2.mostly children above 8 years fast all days.they can control themselves from playing outside and sit in ac rooms for these hours and listen like prayers to their classes. 3. even outdoor assemblies or any such activities which cause tiredness are avoided in this month.portions can be diluted 4.and Islam or any religion doesn't insist fasting avoiding our duties rather it should be done with more energy from the almighty. 5.extending holidays will cause overburden of studying more portions in a limited time.20 days are valuable in a school calendar.