Dubai to shorten school days to five hours for Ramadan

Sharjah also announces six hour school days during the holy month

Dubai's private schools are reducing the day to six hours during Ramadan. Pawan Singh / The National
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Private schools in Dubai are to reduce operating hours during the month of Ramadan, the emirate's education authority has confirmed.

Schools will also be closed by noon on Fridays, said an official for the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

The noon closure on Fridays is to accommodate prayers.

In Sharjah, private schools will also reduce hours with school days cut to no longer than six hours.

“As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, KHDA has set a number of guidelines for Dubai private schools to consider when determining working hours, foremost of which is that the duration of the school day should not exceed five hours, and schools must finish by 12pm (noon) on Fridays,” said Shamma Al Mansouri, director of permits at the KHDA.

Sharjah Private Education Authority has advised schools to reduce hours, however, each school needs to determine their operating hours according to the requirements of their curriculum while following Ramadan regulations.

The daily school hours should not exceed six hours and should be determined by taking into account the stage of the pupil's education.

Many schools often check with parents ahead of Ramadan to see if they would prefer an earlier or later start and finish to the school day.

Simon Crane, head teacher at Brighton College Dubai said the school would operate a compact timetable to ensure they would be able to fit sufficient lessons into the reduced schedule.

“Our community voted overwhelmingly to come to the school on Fridays as our pupils prefer in-class studies rather than online,” said Mr Crane.

“They don’t want to have online distance learning again, as they want to be with their peers in a classroom setting.”

Time for lessons

Pupils in foundation stages one and two should be at the school by 8.30am and will be dismissed by 1pm. Pupils in years one and two must be at the school by 8.15 and go home by 1pm.

Principals said they often struggled with attendance on Fridays during Ramadan and were planning special activities to encourage pupils to attend on such days.

“We'll definitely be reducing hours from Monday to Thursday to 8.15am to 1.15pm,” said Lisa Johnson, principal at American Academy for Girls in Dubai.

On Friday, pupils will be at the school from 8.30am to 11.15pm.

“It's a challenge to have good attendance on those days but we try to schedule most of our activities and events on Fridays to encourage the children to come to school,” said Ms Johnson.

“We do lots of house events on Fridays. Each of the houses gets to plan an event and those are all on Fridays trying to children into school on that short day.

“It is a challenge for sure. Especially as most of our pupils are Emirati and traditionally, that's been a family day, and they still have lots of family activities planned for that day. The parents have been very supportive.”

Ghadeer Abu-Shamat, superintendent and chief executive at Gems Al Khaleej International School said the school's operating hours would be from 8.30am to 1pm for the pupils and until 1.50pm for the staff.

Usually, pupils come in at 7.30am but will have a later start at 8.30am during Ramadan. Pupils will go home at 1.15pm.

On Friday the school's operating hours will be from 8.30am to 11.15am.

“Sometimes we do have a special activity, especially during the month of Ramadan on Fridays. We have some competitions or some activities or assemblies taking place,” said Ms Abu-Shamat.

“We plan to ensure that the pupils are encouraged to come to school regardless of whether it's two hours or four hours in school.”

She said they took staff and teachers into consideration while planning operating hours to ensure they could avoid peak traffic hours.

Updated: March 08, 2024, 3:53 AM