x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Heat leads some schools to cut hours

Sharjah education officials plan to shorten school days by 60 minutes from today, despite a directive from the Ministry of Education not to do so.

SHARJAH // Education officials in the emirate say they are going ahead with shorter school days from today, despite a directive from the Ministry of Education to the Sharjah Education Zone to reverse their decision.

The Sharjah Education Zone (SEZ) sent out circulars to public and private schools asking them to shorten every school day by 60 minutes this month. While all public schools have been asked to follow the decision, private institutions were offered a flexible timetable. Some private schools said they will follow the shorter hours.

However, Ali Mihad al Suwaidi, director general of the Ministry of Education, said they did not give permission to the local authority to alter the school day.

"We heard that schools have been told to reduce the day and we have asked the zone to reverse this," said Mr al Suwaidi.

He said any changes for public schools must be made at the federal level and apply to all government schools. "We have no plans to reduce the school day and a single emirate cannot decide to do so on its own," he said.

Saeed al Katbi, director of SEZ, said they have not heard from the ministry and would begin reducing hours today.

"We are implementing this temporarily because it is getting really hot," he said.

"But the day will only be shorter by 60 minutes and lessons have been adjusted."

He said faulty air conditioning at some schools was adding to the problem.

The ministry said it will replace 7,000 old units in Dubai and Northern Emirates schools.

Mona Shuhail, deputy director of the Sharjah zone, said some children had fallen ill because of the heat.

"The mornings are so humid and by the time we hit afternoon it's worse," said Fouzia Mohammed, a teacher at the Sharjah Model School for Boys.

"It worries the students and they cannot concentrate. It is difficult to teach as well."

Ms Mohammed said the ministry should allow schools to follow this because it would benefit the students.

aahmed@thenational.ae