Sharjah schools can extend academic year to comply with new four-day week

Private schools in the emirate have the freedom to extend classes by a week to ensure completion of syllabus

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Private schools in Sharjah will be allowed to increase daily learning hours or extend the academic year by a week to adapt to the emirate's new three-day weekend.

Earlier this month, Sharjah announced the public sector would move to a four-day week from January 1, 2022

Sharjah Private Education Authority confirmed private schools pupils would attend classes from Monday to Thursday – in line with the new working week.

An SPEA official on Tuesday set out measures, which could be taken by schools to ensure they can fit learning hours into the shortened week.

Remote learning

Tariq Al Hammadi, head of support services at SPEA, told Sharjah TV schools would be permitted to extend the duration of the school day by employing additional distance learning.

They will be able to increase the school week by adding three hours of remote learning.

“For a smooth transition to the new work week during what is remaining of this academic year, private schools in Sharjah can amend their timetables and working hours according to what is most suitable for their curriculums and requirements,” said Mr Al Hammadi.

“Private schools were given flexibility to extend their working hours for a maximum of three hours a week to implement online learning.

“For example if the school day finishes by 3.30pm, the school can add a one-hour online learning class.”

As part of efforts to help school transition to the new schedule, Mr Al Hammadi said schools can also add an extra week to the academic year if deemed necessary.

He also laid out procedures for schools following the Ministry of Education curriculum.

“As for schools following ministry curriculum, they must follow the ministry’s assessment and exams table only. For example if the ministry plans an exam on Friday, schools that are under the ministry must commit to that point only.”

Ready for change

Speaking before the new directives, school leaders already had plans in place for the changes to come in 2022.

Vandana Marwaha, principal at Delhi Private School Sharjah, said the school planned to extend hours from Monday to Thursday as the school moved to a four-day week.

“Sharjah is known as the child-friendly emirate so this will definitely give children time to develop their skills and talents. I don't think it will affect productivity, because we will now work towards having a longer school day,” Ms Marwaha told The National earlier this month.

“We don't look at it in the number of days, we look at the number of hours. We will be getting the same number of hours of study for every subject.

“At present, pupils attend school between 7.15am and 1.30pm, But next term they may have to stay back in school for an extra 90 minutes from Monday to Thursday".

She said the school “would definitely want children to have two breaks so that they are comfortable".

She said pupils would now have the time to pursue hobbies and work on their own projects on Fridays.

Another Sharjah school confirmed it would also work to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“We are committed to ensuring that our students continue to thrive, and are even more productive,” said Teresa Varman, Principal at Gems Millennium School – Sharjah.

“The school will be extending the working hours to accommodate the change, and looking to make the transition smooth and seamless for all."

Updated: December 21, 2021, 4:43 PM