Abu Dhabi: Evening school classes for expatriates in Abu Dhabi will be phased out within three years during which 8,000 students from Grades 1 to 12 will be required to shift to day schools, a senior education official told Gulf News.
"I don't want any child to remember Abu Dhabi in 30 years time and feel he didn't receive a good educational experience. This is a positive initiative that will benefit our children of tomorrow," said Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director General of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).
There are currently 305 public schools across Abu Dhabi with 138 public schools in the capital city alone. Of these, 13 schools from Grades 1 to 12 offer evening classes for expatriates from 3pm to 8pm with a half-an-hour break.
Evening schools cater to parents, who are not able to afford the fees at private schools. The ADEC and Abu Dhabi Education Zone (ADEZ) will not be accepting further admissions for evening classes.
The education authorities believe that evening classes are unfair to teachers and are detrimental to the development of a child's personality.
With public schools holding evening classes, teachers are forced to work morning and evening shifts, which is stressful.
The student-parent relationship has also been reported to be tense in households. Students miss out on spending quality time with parents.
The authorities observed that children attending evening schools lack discipline and proper communication skills.
Mohammad Salem Al Daheri, Director of ADEZ, told Gulf News that two years ago the government realised that few students in evening schools posted academic scores above 90 per cent.
"We knew back then that the whole atmosphere in evening schools was a bad idea and decided to move 1,100 students from the emirate and 20 per cent of students in Abu Dhabi city to morning schools," said Al Daheri.
Sara Mohammad, a 13-year-old girl from Yemen, was placed in an evening school when she was only five years old.
Halima Mohammad, Sara's mother says, "My husband was obliged to place her in an afternoon school, but after he passed away, peace be upon him, my older daughter sponsored her schooling.
"Now Sara is in a private school and I feel a huge difference in her personality. She is more outspoken, confident, and bubbly."
Umm Ahmad from Jordan has five children, of which two are attending evening classes.
Gazal, 12, and Aisha, 8, both miss out on spending time with the rest of their family in the evening.
Umm Ahmad said: "I cannot complain about the educational system. It's just as good as in morning schools. The only complaint I have is with regards to the timings.
"My girls don't study with the rest of the children and don't go to school in normal hours with other children." Afternoon classes are not that cheap, said Umm Ahmad. "I pay Dh3,200 for Gazal and Dh2,100 for Aisha. But private schools are much more expensive. we pay Dh6,400 for my son, and he's only in Grade One!"