ABU DHABI // Parents whose children attend state schools or private schools using the Ministry of Education curriculum say they are concerned about the late start of the 2009-2010 academic year. Although the ministry has not revealed how it will make up for days lost to the late start, parents say rumours abound. "Parents and teachers talk, and some say students will have to come to school on Saturday, or stay in school an hour extra every day," said Hana'a al Qadi, a mother of three whose children attend Ashbal al Quds private school.
Mrs al Qadi is worried that her children's education may suffer. "My son Mohammad is starting Grade 12 this year; it is a very important and hard year for him and he does not need added pressure," she said. Mohammad, 17, his brother Yousef, 10, and sister Hanin, 4, were ecstatic when they learnt it was mandatory for the schools to stay closed throughout Ramadan. "The kids are so happy and excited to get to stay at home longer and enjoy a longer vacation," Mrs al Qadi said. "But they will feel the pressure later on, especially if they have to give up their two-day weekends and stay in school for longer hours."
Mrs al Qadi plans to raise her concerns with school officials when the administration office opens in about a week's time. "I hope the school is ready to help out students who will have to deal with a bigger load than they are used to," she said. Mohammed Ismail, a physics teacher at Al Mutanabi High School, said he had heard rumours, spread "most probably by students". "The kids are saying they will be made to come to school on Saturday and have longer school days, but these are unfounded rumours," Mr Ismail said.
"We have not received any directives from the ministry or from our schools' administration, and we teachers will start work on September 16, so if anything of that sort was true, we would have heard by now," he said. Tahani Abdelhadi, whose four children attend Ashbal al Quds school, said she was worried about their ability to "acclimatise". "I have no idea how the kids will get used to being in school again after this long break, and how teachers plan to get into the curriculum they have to cover and teach the kids what they need to know by the time the school year ends," she said.
"As a parent, I'll help my kids as much as I can, but I think the ones who will really suffer will be the teachers." Mona Ewaidah, whose sons Mohammad and Karam will attend Al Nahda School in Abu Dhabi, said she was ignoring their "moans and groans" about the possibility of going to school on a Saturday. "They enjoyed a nice long break and got to stay at home all Ramadan long," Mrs Ewaidah said. "It will be time for them to buckle up and work hard this year, to make up for all that fun they had."