Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Sharjah: UAE schools filled up with students today [Sunday] after two months of summer holidays, with no major incidents or issues reported.
Around 1.081 million public and private school students across the Emirates returned to class on-board school buses or in their family cars.
A minority of private schools will open tomorrow or in the coming days, in line with their own schedule.
Attendance seemed to be healthy on the first day of school; some students are yet to re-join classes as they have not returned from holiday.
‘Back to books’
At Leaders Private School in Sharjah, an Indian curriculum school that started its second term, around 73 per cent of students showed up, said principal Rafia Zafar Ali.
“We had a few seats empty, especially in kindergarten, as some families are still on holiday. For our senior grades, especially grades 10 through 12, it was back to books for term two,” she added.
Most international curriculum schools — as well as Ministry of Education schools — have now started their first term of the 2019-20 academic year. For Indian and Pakistani schools, it is their second term after their academic year started in April.
Parents and school buses drove students to campus early in the morning, with some leaving home as early as 5.30am to beat the rush hour.
A number of parents reported a “smooth” school run in the morning. Canadian father-of-two Mohammad Fariduddin said he left “immediately after 6am” to take his two children, in grade five and six, to Al Ansar International School, a UK curriculum school in Sharjah.
“My children are excited because they want to meet their school friends again after the summer. I drive them to school in the mornings and today [Sunday] went smoothly.
"I was expecting a lot of traffic because of the school buses and parents taking kids to class, apart from the regular people commuting to work, but thankfully it was all smooth,” he added.
In Abu Dhabi, Ciju Kurian, 43, a senior analyst from India, said: “My daughters go to school by bus, and this first day has been smooth. Both are enrolled at an Indian curriculum school in Baniyas, in grade four and grade 10, respectively.”
GEMS Education, the UAE’s biggest education provider with 48 schools, welcomed 18,000 new students, bringing up its student enrolment across the network to 125,000. Also, some 1,800 new teachers have joined GEMS.
Sir Christopher Stone, Chief Education Officer, GEMS Education, said: “Back-to-school marks the beginning of an important chapter in the lives of children. We are really looking forward to welcoming all of our students and staff for an exciting year ahead. Being at a school that is part of GEMS Education, which has a 60-year legacy in the UAE, means that students and staff are members of an extended family, and we want to do everything we can to help each and every one of them reach their full potential.”
Police officials across the country had stepped up patrols to manage traffic near schools on the opening day. In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) warned motorists not to overtake school buses when the stop sign arm of the bus is deployed to ensure the safety of students at the time of embarking or disembarking the buses. Dubai Police also implemented its ‘A Day Without Accident’ campaign today, taking pledges from motorists to obey road safety rules.
Directors of Dubai Police stations visited many schools on their first day. Officers met with parents and school staff to know their problems and distributed gifts to students, wishing them a good and fruitful year.
Meanwhile, around 630 school bus drivers attended educational lectures by Dubai Police to raise awareness as part of ‘A Day Without Accident’.
Colonel Jumaa Bin Suwaidan, deputy director of Traffic Department in Dubai Police, said that the lectures were about following traffic laws and protecting the lives and safety of road users, especially the students.
“The lectures guided the drivers on how to transport the students safely and not to exceed speed limits and paying attention while driving. The drivers’ role is massive for safer roads,” he said.