DUBAI // Schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates say the academic year is off to a better start than usual, despite persistent problems that include staff shortages and faulty air conditioning.
In previous years, the return to school has been marred by delayed textbook orders and severe teacher shortages. Last year, in Dubai alone, there was a shortage of 102 teachers - particularly in mathematics and English.
"Most of our classes are staffed with teachers this year, barring some that do not have English teachers," said Yousef Al Shehhi, the principal of Al Rams Secondary School in Ras Al Khaimah. "But the zone has promised us a teacher by next week."
In the meantime, he said, classes were being redistributed so that pupils' learning would not be disrupted.
The school also reported a shortage of textbooks. "More than 50 pupils in Grade 10 have not received their textbooks, which we are expecting in the next two to three days," said Mr Al Shehhi.
He said the shortage was because many pupils had transferred from other schools and some were attending for the first time.
Mr Al Shehhi added that he had expected the old window air conditioning in all the classrooms to be replaced by split units during the summer holidays. "This has not happened yet," he said.
"The window ACs make a lot of noise and it is very disturbing to the pupils and teachers."
Khawla Al Naqbi, the principal of Umm Roman Bint Amer Girls School in Sharjah, said the school's air conditioning was not working.
"This is not fine and it is very difficult to manage in the heat," she said. "We have asked them to send an engineer soon."
Another principal of a RAK school said he was in need of an English teacher.
"The situation is less chaotic than last year. This time, most of the issues have been resolved on time," he said. "We just need one more English teacher this year."
Adel Al Qeisa, a teacher at Al Noaman Bin Basheer Secondary School in Ajman, said staff had already begun ironing out the expected problems.
"There has been a lot of internal movement of teachers between schools, but that was sorted out before the children returned," he said. "The school was prepped, cleaned and all the books were distributed beforehand at our school."
Mosa Sad Al Bana, the principal of Al Royed School in RAK, said the school was in need of a music teacher, but that all other subjects were fully staffed.