Abu Dhabi: A change in timings for hundreds of primary school children at a popular private school in the capital is causing parents great concern ahead of the 2013-2014 academic year..
The changes were announced by the Abu Dhabi Indian School in March, with the most notable difference for pupils enrolled within Grades 2 to 5. Instead of starting the school day at 7.30am as in previous years, pupils in these grades will be attending school between 11.15am and 4.30pm during the next academic year, which begins on April 7.
School authorities, however, told Gulf News that the timings were required in order to accommodate as many pupils as possible within the current premises.“My daughter is just seven years old, and she will be moving to Grade 2 in the next academic year. We found out about the new timings and ever since then we have been very worried. There will be no one to send our daughter to school at 11.30am because my wife and I will both be at work,” said M.J., a 37-year-old medical officer.
“We are still wondering how we can accommodate the changed schedule. We are also worried that our daughter will not have enough time for an afternoon nap when she returns from school. Moreover, she tends not to have a proper meal while at school, so we are concerned about her lunch arrangements,” the concerned father said.
Another parent with a child who will be enrolled in Grade 5 complained that he too would face similar issues.
“My wife and I both work full-time, and there will be no one to take our daughter to the bus. Besides, we do not feel it is safe for us to leave her at home early in the morning. But we also have no solutions yet,” he said.
“With the seat shortages at Indian curriculum schools in Abu Dhabi, it is also not an option for us to move her to another school,” the father-of-two added.
During the 2012-2013 academic year, the school, which has about 7,000 pupils enrolled at present, was able to run a morning and an afternoon shift for pupils in KG 1, KG 2 and Grade 1. According to a school circular dated March 6, both batches will however be required to attend classes between 7.15am and 11am during the following academic year. The increased demand for classrooms during this time of day, as well as other logistical factors like provision of transport for all pupils, therefore prompted the ‘rescheduling of school timings’.
Classes for Grades 2 to 5 will begin classes at 11.15am, after the kindergarten and Grade 1 classes end at 11.15am. School timings for girls enrolled in Grade 6 to 12 have been changed to 8.30am until 3.15pm, whereas boys in Grades 6 to 12 will attend classes from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
When contacted, V. K. Mathu, adviser to the school’s board of governors, said the timings had been decided upon after much consideration, and with approval from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).
“We want to accommodate as many children as possible, and are constrained by a number of factors. For instance, all pupils must have finished school by 4.30pm, as per federal regulations. We also cannot have pupils in higher grades start later in the day during the timings allocated for Grades 2 to 5, because older pupils need at least six and a half hours of study each day,” Mathu explained.
The second shift for KG 1, KG 2 and Grade 1 was cancelled, and 700 pupils from the shift were merged with the morning shift, because the Adec had granted permission for the later shift during the 2012-2013 academic year only.
“We understand the inconvenience to many parents, and I have met many of them to discuss these. However, this is the best possible way for us to accommodate as many pupils within the present premises,” Mathu said.
Due to the great demand for its seats, the school has also been allocated a plot for a second campus in Al Wathba, but certain legal arrangements are still pending.