Students of JSS Private School in Dubai yesterday. Indian schools start a new academic year in April while most other schools start a new cycle in September. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai Thousands of students marched back to class on Monday for the new academic year for around 70 Indian-curriculum schools in the UAE.

A number of schools reported strong enrolment and attendance rates, adding that they plan to launch fresh programmes for the new academic cycle.

Many of the planned programmes will reflect the ‘Year of Tolerance’ (2019) in the UAE, schools said.

Indian schools start a new academic year in April while most other schools start a new cycle in September.

After UK curriculum schools, Indian curriculum schools are the most popular in Dubai, which has around 35 Indian schools.

On Sunday, school principals told Gulf News the latest academic cycle (2019-20) will see new programmes launched.

Ramesh Mudgal, principal at Global Indian International School-Dubai (GIIS Dubai), said the school plans to organise an inter-school festival and contest in October themed after the value of tolerance. The event will host competitions for public speaking, essay writing, debates, poster making and stage performances in support of tolerance and peace, Mudgal added.

GIIS Dubai, which this year added grades seven and eight, is also rolling out a cricket academy offering professional coaching as an after-school extracurricular activity, he said.

Speaking about the new year, Mudgal said: “Our student enrolment is up 30 per cent on last year. And the first-day attendance is good, at around 85 per cent. We’ve just come back after a 10-day break.”

The KG section of GIIS Dubai will meanwhile start school on Tuesday.

Michael Guzder, Vice President — Education, GEMS Education, said: “Notable schools such as The Millennium School Dubai and GEMS Our Own English High School Dubai welcomed in hundreds of new pupils into the GEMS Education family along with new staff, many from India ... The board exams are soon to be over, which will be followed by preparations for the annual prize days. Schools are also working full steam ahead preparing for the next DSIB [Dubai School Inspection Bureau] inspection. All in all, a very busy few months ahead.”

Mohammad Ali, principal of The Gulf Indian High School-Dubai, said this year the school is introducing robotics and STEM education as part of the primary and middle curriculum, in line with directives of India’s CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education).

Ali added: “Extracurricular activities are beautifully linked with the Year of Tolerance this time. Charitable activities like a stationery collection drive, dress collection drive and volunteering activities are already on. A boost is planned in career guidance by incorporating India’s Civil Service Coaching to students from grade five to 10. We also hope the new initiative of the CBSE to allow less-performing students to opt for light mathematics could make the way easier for students looking for non-tech careers.”

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal of Credence High School in Dubai, also said enrolment has grown, without going into details. Speaking about the first school day, she added: “We welcomed all with open arms, while promising to set new goals and achieve greater heights. Credence family is growing by each passing year and getting robust as well with an enriched agenda involving various activities in regards to the Year of Tolerance, Expo 2020, ‘Innovation’ and most importantly ‘Student and Adult Well-being’. Credence vows to prepare the future generation to take charge and build a beautiful world for all.”