Dubai: The announcement of a four-and-a-half working week for schools, with the two-and-a-half day weekend beginning on Friday, has been widely welcomed in the UAE. Gulf News spoke to school and college managements to find out what they think about the new development. While the new weekend was considered to be in keeping with the global norm, some principals said they were already thinking of how they would make necessary adjustments given the half-day weekend extension.
Elmarie Venter, Chief Operations Officer of Gems Education which runs over two dozen schools across different curricula, said, “Gems Education has noted the important news about the working week changes in the UAE."
"We will fully comply with the nation’s leadership guidance in all our schools,” Venter said.
Justin Allen MacCauley, Principal, North American International School, Mizhar, Dubai, said, “It is a great move as this Saturday and Sunday weekend is a global alignment decision and will give our students the opportunity to align with other Anmerican schools and have a dialogue with other sister schools in America.
"The half day on Friday is an adjustment that will be worked out smoothly. If we have learnt anything in the pandemic in the last two years, it is the value of being flexible in our education at all times. Learning should take place under all conditions and be adaptive.”
Nahid Afshan, Head of Admission, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus, said, “The new four-and-a-half-day working week announcement is a great move by the UAE Government. This will further strengthen UAE’s positioning as global business hub, increasing competitiveness while aligning the country with international markets."
"UAE is truly setting an example for the world to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing which in turn will reflect on the overall performance and productivity of the workforce.”
The institutions are eagerly awaiting more details of the guidelines.
Fiona Cottam, Principal Hartland International School which follows the British curriculum, said the school would wait for the education authority to provide detailed guidelines on how to best make up for a half day of instructions on Friday.
“Currently, we close our school on Thursday at 1.30pm. So what time would we close on a Friday? I am sure the Education Ministry will find a way to work this out in the best way.”
Learning beyond classrooms
Punit Vasu, CEO, The Indian High School, following the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) curriculum, said, “I think from the point of view of the well-being of the teacher and the student it is going to be a very welcome move. I personally believe that a lot of learning takes place beyond the classrooms, in parks, playgrounds and social interactions. With more time on hands, our students will be able to hone other skills."
He said, "Right now, as part of the Rahal programme, we already follow a three or three-and-a-half day week for our Grade 11 and 12 students. Here they have longer hours on these days, but they get two school days and the weekend to themselves, leaving time to plan their coaching, assignments and other things. I feel we will be able to work this out for the four-and-a-half day week too. KHDA, our education provider, is very progressive and we will wait for further guidelines from them on the implementation of the new rules and work distribution. Frankly, I would not mind, if on Fridays we can introduce distance learning. We have the technology and it can be used.”
Rashmi Nandkoleyar, Principal DPS Dubai, said, “Personally, I welcome this move as it will align our week days internationally with other CBSE schools."
She said they are waiting for KHDA to guide us on how to make up 12 hours of instruction time that would be taken up by the extended weekend.
"The education authority will issue guidelines to smoothen out this transition, I am sure,” she added.
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