The academic year will again start during Ramadan this year, education officials said yesterday. For the first time, primary and secondary schools and federal universities will have the same calendar, starting on Aug 30 and closing on June 13, 2010. Teaching and administrative staff will return to work on Aug 23. The holy month is expected to start on Aug 21. After last year's overlap, parents, teachers and pupils said the school year should not begin until after Ramadan, as was the case last year in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, arguing that the overlap led to various problems, including poor attendance and a drop in student productivity.
But the authorities decided not to postpone the school year, arguing that delays would have reduced the number of school days and hamper student achievement. Dr Mohammad Robin Edris, director of the National Charity Schools in Dubai, agreed with the decision. "Schooling is schooling, either in Ramadan or out of Ramadan."
But he did say that an exception should be made for children who attend school in the evening, because the timing clashed with the breaking of the fast. State and private schools run on a truncated schedule during Ramadan. Meanwhile, the Education and Higher Education ministries are still working on a shared holiday schedule. Rashid al Nuaimi, director general of the Ministry of Education, said the alignment of school and university calendars was important for "social stability" for students and parents and was a priority for the ministry. firstname.lastname@example.org