Manama: Teachers and school administrators in Qatar have called for longer summer holidays, saying that they were physically and mentally entitled to a higher number of rest days.

The education ministry should postpone the start of the academic year from the scheduled September 5 to September 15, they said in a letter submitted to the education minister Sa’ad Ebrahim Al Mahmood.

Other professionals were given 60 days off when counting the religious and national holidays, but teachers will not entitled to the same benefits with religious breaks falling in the summer, their traditional break, local Arabic daily Al Raya reported the teachers as saying on Monday.

“We are upset because we have to work typically from 6 am until 5 pm and yet we do not have long holidays,” Khalid Al Mahmood, a school coordinator, told the daily. “The long academic year affects the standards of both the students and the teachers. The students cannot focus on learning as they should be while teachers do not have time to improve their skills and enhance their aptitudes,” he said.

The coordinator said that the ministry should drop the two weeks at the end of the school year where teachers and administrators are required to report to school although there are no students and there is no work to do.

“What is the purpose of the two weeks without work and which means that teachers cannot rest at the end of a long school year? That period should be included in the summer break,” he said.

Mohammad Al Beloushi, an administrative coordinator, said that teachers and school administrator were the only employees who could not choose the timing of their holidays.

“The other employees can select when they can have their breaks while we can have them only in summer,” he said. “The other employees in fact often divide their holidays over three or four periods of time so that they can have breaks in summer, spring and Ramadan for instance. To compound the situation, this year, the ten day-break for Ramadan and the five-day break for Eid will fall in our summer holidays, which means that we will not benefit from 15 days off,” he said.

Al Beloushi said that the school days should be shorted by half an hour and that the periods should be put back at 40 minutes instead of the new 55 minutes.

“We do need to ease physical and mental pressure on students and teachers,” he said.

Fatima Yusuf Zaial Al Ishaq, a teacher, said that long school years meant boredom for students and teachers.

“They all wait for breaks to use their energy in other matters than education,” she said. “Encouragement and motivation lead to productivity while pressure can result in boredom and dullness and these two have to be avoided at all costs. Teachers are treated unfairly and they now have some of the shortest holidays for state employees,” she said.

A postponement of the start of the school year by two weeks should help teachers and students be better prepared for the new academic year, she said.