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A student marks his attendance. Image Credit: Screenshot

Cairo: The new academic year, which kicked off in Saudi Arabia earlier this week, marked the introduction of the fingerprint attendance system into some schools in the kingdom.

A video aired on the Saudi television Al Ekhbariya showed biometric fingerprint devices in action in schools in Al Aflaj governorate, around 300 kilometres from the capital Riyadh.

In the footage, a number of school students are seen using the machines to register their attendance before entering the class.

There was no official word on how many schools where this system is already in effect and if there is a specific timetable to apply it nationwide.

More than 6 million students in different educational stages returned to school on Sunday across Saudi Arabia after a two-month summer vacation.

The three-semester school year in the kingdom will be spread over 38 weeks and feature 60-day different holidays, in addition to a 68-day summer break.

According to an official schedule, the first semester will run until November 16. The second semester is due to begin 10 days later and run until February 22. The third is scheduled to start March 3 and end on June 10.

New school year

As of the new school year, new subjects such as earth sciences, space and event managements are introduced in the secondary school stage.

The Saudi Education Ministry has said it will teach earth and space sciences as part of the secondary school curricula starting from this academic year.

The plan was unveiled as two Saudi astronauts completed a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The decision to teach the earth and space sciences aims to promote “students’ positive attitudes” towards the space science in line with the best international practices related to curricula ,and scientific and national criteria, the ministry said.

“The book on the earth and space Sciences will enable students to develop their abilities in nature and applied sciences at the secondary school stage,” the ministry added in a statement.

The new syllabus contains an introduction to the earth and space, exploration of relationship among the earth, air, space, water and living organisms as well as linking important natural phenomena such as solar and lunar eclipses, and moon phases.

The ministry said the introduction of the new subject is part of its “keenness to cope with aspirations and future objectives” aimed to qualify internationally competitive citizens by upgrading learning outputs to keep abreast of world changes, future requirements and labour market needs.

Saudi biomedical scientist Rayyanah Barnawi in May became the first Arab woman to go on a space stint. She joined the male Saudi astronaut Ali Al Qarni ad two US colleagues in reaching ISS.