Students at Indian High School in Dubai. Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) recently announced results of its inspections of some Indian and Pakistani schools. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Private schools in Dubai will be allowed to follow their own holiday calendars as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has been approving requests on a case-by-case basis, a senior KHDA official said.

However, the schools must comply with the number of school days and school hours stipulated by the regulators.

Parents, school administrators and teachers have been in a fix ever since the announcement of the unified holiday calendar by the Ministry of Education (MoE) last month as it had put their vacation plans in jeopardy.

Although the KHDA's announcement has offered hope to private schools in Dubai, parents and educators in other emirates remain confused.

With 138 private schools following 13 curricula operating in the emirate, KHDA acknowledges that it is necessary to cater to their varying needs, and that is why the authority has now begun to approve their requests on case-by-case basis.

Mohammad Darwish, Chief of the Regulation and Compliance Commission at the KHDA, said the unique school landscape of Dubai requires a certain flexibility in order for it to function in harmony.

"We cannot have one-size-fits-all solutions, we have schools attached to their respective education boards [IBO, US, UK Edexcel and CIE, French and Japanese, etc.] who have different schedules for examinations, external assessment dates and other similar commitments.

"Some schools offer a dual curriculum and need this flexibility as much as others," Darwish said, emphasising that such a landscape demands flexibility and understanding from authorities.

Since schools and parents plan their academic year in advance, KHDA normally begins approving their proposed calendars from January and will continue to do so.

Awaiting approval

"KHDA has been approving academic calendars for schools with the academic year beginning in September, since the end of January as this is when the schools begin planning for the next academic year," he added.

Any private school in Dubai that is not following the MoE curriculum but wishes to follow their unified calendar for whatever reasons, can choose to do so, provided they get approval from KHDA.

A formal communication from KHDA has already been sent to all schools in this regard.

The KHDA's latest announcement comes following its approval of Indian and Pakistani schools to follow their old calendar last month.

Representatives of several schools said they have already applied for approval of their calendar dates and are awaiting the response from KHDA.