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Al Masoudi School is to be closed and children will be transferred to a new school in Al Ain.
Al Masoudi School is to be closed and children will be transferred to a new school in Al Ain.

Schoolyard shuffle for thousands of Abu Dhabi pupils

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) says it will close six schools, open five and merge several others as part of a plan to provide better learning environments for pupils across the emirate.

Thousands of pupils in the capital will move to new campuses when a new school year begins next month.

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) said yesterday it would close six schools, open five and merge several others as part of a plan to provide better learning environments for pupils across the emirate.

The closed schools will be repurposed, renovated or demolished - all in the name of creating sustainable schools equipped with the latest technology.

All new school buildings have been constructed according to Estidama principles - a rating system for sustainable built environments.

Light and fresh air are essential to increasing the efficiency and productivity of staff and pupils, says Jourdan Younis, the managing director of Alpin, a clean-technology consultancy working with Adec to build two high schools in Al Ain.

He said the new building would focus "on the indoor environmental quality, first and foremost" with special attention paid to the materials used in construction, and the amount of sunlight and clean air in the classrooms.

Apart from opening, closing and merging campuses, Adec also announced it would also change its gender policies at several schools: some will become co-ed campuses and others will be staffed exclusively by women.

Al Falahiya School will mix boys and girls from grades 1 to 12 (age 6 to 18), while Al Montaha will have mixed classes for children in grades 6 to 12, aged 12 and above.

Al Sariyah School in Al Ain will be co-ed from kindergarten one to grade one (aged 4 to 6), with girls-only classes starting from grade 2 (age 7).

Five schools will have a shake-up of their teaching bodies, as Adec further implements its "female teachers only" rule.

Female staff will be hired at Omair Bin Yousef, Sas Al Nakhl and Hamoodah Bin Ali schools in Abu Dhabi and Abu Bakr Al Siddique and Al Shaheen schools in Al Ain.

When Adec first announced plans to staff boys schools exclusively with female teachers in 2011, some were hesitant. But Dr Robin Dada, assistant dean at Zayed University, said their graduates were not overly concerned about the boys' classes they might be assigned to.

"Our students gain experience in mixed classes," said Dr Dada."They work on various behaviour management strategies among other skills for a child's age-appropriate development.

"They are not interested in teaching older boys, but at the lower stages they are fine."

Roqaya Al Shebani, principal of Al Jazeera school, said she believed female teachers had more of an effect on younger boys.

"I agree with a system where children up to 12 are taught by women," she said. "Female teachers are more nurturing. They can extend a family feel which is necessary in those stages."

Dr Dada said Adec's emphasis should also be on finding teachers who are ready to teach children in a specific grade.

"In the past, there have been schools where teachers were not prepared to work with young pupils. That caused a lot of confusion for the teachers and children alike."

In the absence of male Emirati teachers, she said, hiring female citizens was the best option.

"We would love to see more Emirati men but now there are more female graduates. If they see it as their role to educate, then they should take the opportunity."

aahmed@thenational.ae

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