x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Some private schools will be exempt from Ramadan delay

Education Ministry clarifies its directive about which will have to put back start of school year.

ABU DHABI // The Ministry of Education has clarified that only private schools that follow the ministry's curriculum will be required to join their state counterparts in delaying the start of the school year until the end of Ramadan. Following a decision by the Cabinet, the ministry said it would send a circular to state schools and relevant private schools announcing that teachers would be expected to report on September 13.

Students, however, will start school on September 23 immediately after the three-day Eid al Fitr holiday, which is expected to start on either September 19 or 20. A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said private schools following international curriculums could start the school year as they saw fit. "The ministry may hold meetings with principals of private schools and discuss the details of the new academic year with them, but really, the choice is left up to them," the spokesman added.

"In fact, some private schools have already made the decision earlier not to start the school year until after Ramadan, so this is something that has been considered by all in the education field." The ministry did not make an announcement on when the school year would be expected to end. Humaid al Qattami, the Minister of Education, is in Tunisia for the 10th round of the Islamic, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, which will conclude today. Upon his return to the UAE, the ministry is expected to make an official statement regarding the school calendar.

"We will be ironing out all these details next week with higher authorities, to make sure schools make up for the missed days," the ministry said. The MoE announced in March that the school year would not be postponed just because Ramadan fell in the summer - at sundown on August 22. However, the Cabinet decision may have come after a question posted on the Facebook account of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, drew a multitude of comments.

Sheikh Mohammed had asked the public whether the school year should start on schedule or be postponed until after Eid al Fitr. After most respondents urged a postponement, Sheikh Mohammed posted a message last Tuesday that said: "Thanks for your generous response to my question regarding the upcoming academic year. I appreciate these opinions and insights from such a wide diversity of people in our society."