Back to school: Students of Indian High School, Oud Metha, Dubai in their class room on the first day after a long summer break on 02 September 2018. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Schools across the UAE sprang back to life on Sunday, September 2, as more than 1.6 million students arrived for the first day of class after a long summer break.

Many new schools welcomed pupils for the first time in the UAE, while dozens will reopen after undergoing retrofits.

Sharjah police officers help students and parents cross the road on the first day of school after summer vacation on Sunday. Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

On Saturday, the UAE leadership, ministers and other officials congratulated the school community on social media, on the beginning of a fresh academic year.

Leaders tweet wishes

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said on Twitter: “Tomorrow, the new academic year starts over and we resume the journey of education for more than one million students in our country. To them I say: Your schools are developing you to help you build your country. Your schools are granting you knowledge to give us glory in return. Your and our dreams are launched from your classes and from your books, you determine the future of your country, so make your schools your home and I wish you all the success.”

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also wished students on Twitter:   “Tomorrow [Sunday], a new academic year full of positivity and optimism begins. My sons [students], please try to learn as much knowledge and science as you can and committee to the noble values and morals. I hope you diligently and persistently continue your educational journey. Success is no longer an aim but excellence is our end goal.”

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed added: “Our best wishes of more success and giving for the educational staff. We wish they continue promoting an environment conducive for learning, creativity and thinking. We also look forward to a constant and effective contribution of the community and families, following up on students and encouraging them to achieve their ambition and future aspirations.”

The Ministry of Education said all preparations were in place for the smooth return of around 1.1 million students at 616 public schools in the UAE.

Hussain Bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, said the ministry had completed all preparations and arrangements to create an attractive and encouraging learning environment that helps students start the new 2018-2019 academic year with enthusiasm.

Jubilant students of Indian High School, Oud Metha, Dubai arriving on the first day after a long summer break on 2 September 2018. Pankaj Sharma / Gulf News

“The strategic partnership between the ministry and parents is of vital importance in improving the learning environment in Emirati schools,” he said.

The ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, has implemented a comprehensive plan for the maintenance of 23 schools and replacement of four old schools.

Nearly 35 schools, less than 15 years old, have also seen architectural, electrical, mechanical and health-related improvements.

The ministry also conducted a weeklong technical training for 26,000 teachers, before the launch of the new academic year.

New schools

This academic year, 13 new private schools — of mainly IB and UK curriculum — are opening in Dubai. Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director-general of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, said: “Dubai’s education sector has always seen growth and we continue to welcome new schools.

The opening of 13 new schools will provide greater choice for parents, as schools offer innovative packages to attract students.

The education sector has a lot of potential for growth and Dubai continues to be a popular destination. We welcome all students after the summer break and wish our schools a year filled with learning, happiness and improved well-being.”

This academic year, there will be no increase in tuition fees at private schools in Dubai. In June, the Dubai Executive Council issued a decision not to increase school fees at all private schools in the emirate for the new academic year 2018-19, to reduce the financial burden on parents.

7 new schools in Abu Dhabi

Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, seven new schools were launched. There is still room for more schools in the UAE, Rhona Greenhill, co-founder of IPSEF (International and Private Schools Education Forum), told Gulf News last week.

Parents of around 643,000 children throughout the UAE are now choosing to send their child to private English-medium international schools, according to ISC Research.

The 2018 Global Report on the International Schools Market, about to be published by ISC Research, says there are now 642 English-medium international schools in the UAE.

On Sunday, police in the UAE will step up patrols for the first day of school.

This school season, the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources recently issued a circular, calling on ministries and federal bodies to implement a new Back to School Policy.

The policy grants up to three hours of leave to parents working for the federal government and having schoolgoing children, to give them enough flexibility to take their children to and from schools on school reopening day.