Students of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School , Abu Dhabi with Mir Anisul Hasan, Principal, and other officials during free book distribution at the school yesterday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Thousands of students across the UAE started a new trimester after the winter break on Sunday. At one institution though, it was the start of their academic year.

The Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School follows the national curriculum of Bangladesh and under this system, the academic year begins in January. This is unique in the UAE because all other schools begin the academic year in either September or April.

“The sense of excitement for a new year is especially heightened for us. Imagine starting a new year while also moving to a new grade. Along with it, there are new books, new school bags and new stationery.

“I’ve been a student at this school since kindergarten, and I’ve always felt renewed at the start of every new grade because it also coincides with the beginning of the year,” Maha Zabeen, 18, told Gulf News.

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solar panels have been installed at the school, covering 30% of its energy needs

“We start a new grade boosted by the New Year spirit,” she added, beaming with excitement.

Zabeen is one of nearly 800 students at the school, which seeks to provide affordable education options for Bangladeshi families. Fees are set at about Dh5,000 up to Grade 10, and increase to just Dh6,000 for students in Grades 11 and 12.

“We wrap things up every December, and start a new academic year in January. It simply feels like natural progression, and perhaps it lends us extra strength and motivation to keep excelling,” said the school’s principal Mir Anisul Hasan.

In fact, this is the only UAE-based school to date to have been awarded the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize. Led by students of its Eco club, the school pitched a plan in 2013 to become carbon neutral using efficient cooling and solar systems.

Since then, it has gone on to install 48 solar panels that provide 30 per cent of its energy needs, as well as a number of wind towers to help with cooling the premises. Constantly looking to innovate, it has also set up a conservatory that allows students to learn about the environment.

Coinciding with the start of the new school year, more than 8,000 textbooks was to be distributed free of charge to students at the school on Monday.

Meanwhile, the school and its students do not plan to rest on their laurels. Zabeen, for instance, plans to top her Grade 12 board exams.

I am nearing the end of my school years, and I hope to do well enough so that I can go on to become a doctor or a lawyer. But I also know I will be sad to leave my school at the end of 2019,” she said.

“We are starting the academic year completely rejuvenated, so let’s see how much more we can achieve,” added principal Hasan.