A classroom in Al Najah International school (Arabic) in Mussaffah, Abu Dhabi on the first day of school. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Dubai: Schools in the UAE welcomed tens of thousands of new students, in addition to returning students, on Sunday, the first day of the new academic year after the long summer break.

Altogether, over 1.6 million students are attending more than 1,200 schools this academic year in the UAE – 1.1 million pupils in over 600 public schools and more than 600,000 in over 600 private schools.

Across the GEMS Education network of almost 50 schools, 18,000 new students joined the group. GEMS has close to 125,000 pupils in the UAE.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed forces visits Al Asayel School in Abu Dhabi. Twitter

The newly-opened GEMS Founders School Al Mizhar welcomed 1,500 new students while GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail welcomed 156 new students and 16 new teachers.

Pedro Miguel, a father of three students at GEMS Dubai American Academy School, said: “It’s been amazing to attend the induction day this year, this is our first time. It’s very well organised, I think the kids are in very good hands.”

On Monday, GEMS Metropole School will welcome almost 700 new students and close to 60 new teachers along with the rest of the school’s community.

Record enrolment

Meanwhile, Taaleem, one of the UAE’s largest education providers, is expecting a record number of over 9,000 students at its schools this academic year, said Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem.

On its website (www.taaleem.ae), Taaleem lists 10 schools in the UAE. Pierrepont said that across the group, the schools are expecting to welcome some 2,000 new students this week.

Most schools in the UAE reopened on Sunday while others are starting later this week.

Leena Thawrani, parent relations officer at Uptown School in Dubai, described the first day back as “a busy but lovely start to the new year”. The school reported 1,423 pupils starting school on Sunday.

Marco Longmore, headmaster of Brighton College Dubai, one of the new schools that opened in the fresh academic year, said, “Our main focus this week is to settle in our pupils into their new nurturing environment. We will do so by phasing in each year group over the week, and welcoming parents too, creating the foundations for our community of kindness”.

Dr Heena Rachh, principal of Global Indian International School Abu Dhabi, said around 200 new students have so far joined the school this academic year, which began in April for Indian schools. The school, which has “1,650 students and counting”, is still accepting new admissions, which is being allowed by authorities, Dr Rachh added.

“The first day of school after the summer break was very refreshing. Our students are smiling, open-minded and excited. We’ve a lot of new activities planned for the this school year, including adding to our Heartfulness Initiative, where the entire family – students and parents – will be meditating together. We’ve also added new classes in STEM, robotics and new experiments,” she said.

However, some seats were empty on the first day of class at UAE private schools, as many students who had gone to the Indian state of Kerala over the summer break have been held back in the aftermath of devastating floods there.

Accident-free day

In the UAE, no school-related traffic accidents were reported on the first day of the new term in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman. Police and transport authorities had taken special measures to ensure a smooth and safe school-run on Sunday.

Public schools in UAE.

In Dubai, directors of police stations visited the schools under their jurisdiction and greeted pupils and teachers with gifts. Dubai Police said the first day of school went smoothly without traffic jams.

On first day of schools reopening in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Police distributed leaflets of instructions among students and organised vehicular movements for smoother operations in and around the capital.

Abu Dhabi Police meanwhile said students who were crossing the roads via pedestrian bridges and traffic junctions had been instructed about the traffic rules. Members of the “We are all police” initiative also participated in streamlining traffic near schools.

Police in Sharjah and Ajman said that there were no school-related accidents on the first day of school in both emirates. Students had a smooth transit on first day, with the police deploying a total of 96 patrols on streets leading to schools and in other congested areas, in both emirates.

Private schools in UAE (estimated).

Brigadier Abdullah Mubarak Bin Amer, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Sharjah Police, and senior police officers were at hand to monitor the process closely .

Separate lanes were allocated for school buses in the morning rush hour on all roads leading to school areas such as Muwaileh, University City and Al Ezrra.

Lieutenant Colonel Saif Abdullah Al Falasi, director of traffic and patrol department at Ajman Police, said the force deployed 25 patrols in all school areas and congested roads during peak hours.

— With inputs from staff reporters Ali Al Shouk, Aghaddir Ali and Anwar Ahmed


Schooling in UAE

■ 1.1 million public school pupils
■ 616 public schools
■ 26,000 public school teachers trained before start of new school year
■ 643,000 private school students (estimated)
■ 642 private schools (estimated)
■ 17 different curricula taught in UAE
■ 13 new private schools in Dubai
■ 145,000 students use school bus in Dubai
■ 6,500 school buses in Dubai
■ Dh7.5 billion collected in fees by private Dubai schools