Dubai: Yellow school buses took over the Dubai and Sharjah roads on Sunday morning - the first day of the new academic year in the UAE.
More than a million students across the UAE are heading back at school on September 1, after a two-month summer holiday.
American, British, International Baccalaureate and Ministry of Education curriculum schools are starting their 2019-20 academic year, while Indian, Pakistani, Filipino and Bangladeshi curriculum schools are starting their second or third semester of 2019-20.
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, tweeted on Sunday morning, about the importance of education.
As expected, Al Ittihad Road and Mohammad Bin Zayed Road - the two major highways linking Sharjah and Dubai -- were choked as motorists rushed to drop their children to school while thousands of schools buses also came out on the roads adding to traffic congestion. However, traffic on most Dubai roads was smooth early morning until 7am.
“It seems yellow school buses have swarmed the roads today as early as 5.30am while I am trying to take my children to school,” said Kaleem Ahmed, a Sharjah resident who drove his children to a school in Al Mizhar Dubai. However, he said, traffic was not as bad as expected before 6am.
Gulf News photographers and reporters who spread across Dubai and Sharjah to cover the first day of school reported the roads got congested after 6am. Traffic police personnel were present outside the schools and at major interactions close to the schools to ensure smooth traffic flow and to tackle with any emergencies.
Early run to schools
Parents and school buses drove students to campus early in the morning, with some leaving home as early as 5.30am to beat rush hour.
Many students with their parents arrived as early as 6.30am, an hour before their 7.30am school start.
They streamed through the school corridors, finding their new classroom and reuniting with friends. The sounds of excited children and wheels of school trolley bags reverberated off the walls.
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 went smoothly. I left early - immediately after 6am - expecting 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.
Some showed up in regular clothes as they still had to buy uniforms or wait for sets that are the right size for them.
Fariduddin, a Canadian father of two children, in grade five and six, said he arrived early at Al Ansar International School in Sharjah to beat traffic.
"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 went smoothly. I left early - immediately after 6am - expecting 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 said.
"I had told my kids let's all be ready for school right after the dawn Fajr prayer."
Some students were seen off by the whole family, including newborn siblings.A number of parents are also busy with last-minute school registration formalities.
Smooth back to school in Abu Dhabi
Dressed in their respective uniforms, and carrying backpacks and lunch satchels, thousands of schoolgoing children boarded their buses in the morning, or were dropped off for class by their parents.
The first day back also meant that traffic was heavier than usual on some of the capital’s roads, with school buses adding to the rush hour.
“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 grades 4 and grade 10 respectively,” Ciju Kurian, 43, a senior analyst from India, told Gulf News.
More than 371,000 students in Abu Dhabi
There are more than 450 schools in Abu Dhabi emirate, including more than 265 public institutions and over 190 private schools. They cater to more than 371,000 students in the emirate.
About 65 per cent of students are known to attend private schools, which boast more than 290,000 seats for 2019-2020. These private institutions offer about 15 different curriculums, including UAE Ministry of Education, British, American, Indian, and International Baccalaureate.
New charter schools
This year, more than 15,000 seats have been made available at a dozen charter schools. These are government-owned institutions run by private education providers, and they currently offer the American curriculum for pupils enrolled in the kindergarten and primary grades.
In order to ease the transition for younger children, some schools have however specified later start dates or times for students in kindergarten.
“My daughter will be attending kindergarten for the first time this year. Students in other grades are starting earlier, but my daughter’s first day is on Thursday. I am quite happy about this though, because it gives her a weekend to relax before starting a full five-day week at school,” said N.A., a mother-of-one from Bangladesh.
Dubai and roads generally have bottle necks and traffic jams when the schools reopen, especially on the first day of school as some motorists drive recklessly to make it to the school on time; many end up in road crashes causing delays and more traffic jams.
To ensure smooth traffic on the first day of school, Dubai Police today is carrying out a campaign ‘A Day Without Accident’ urging motorist to ensure road safety.
“Be a safe driver and Contribute to the success of “#ADayWithoutAccidents” campaign. Kindly log on to the #DubaiPolice website, sign a pledge letter, in which you promise to abide by traffic rules. Together we can make our roads safer for all,” Dubai Police tweeted reminding motorists of road safety.
Motorists are also advised to check traffic and route maps before they start their journey to avoid any delays due to unexpected traffic jams or accidents.
Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has also 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.