Could revised school timings be on next year’s curriculum for Dubai students?

Even as authorities ask the public to opine on the possible shift, parents are divided on the benefits of a new schedule for their children

It has been debated often enough, and now authorities are asking the public to finally send in their suggestions on whether revised school timings would prove to be a boon or bane for many commuting parents.

Head of Dubai Traffic Police, General Mohammad Saif Al Zafeen, took to Twitter on his official account and posed the question to residents, saying: “I would like to know your opinion about proposing school timing from 9am to 3 or 3.30pm.”

While no further information was provided, the topic has been debated several times in the past few years, with Abu Dhabi Indian School in the capital being one of the few institutions that have rolled out a new schedule from April 2013 in a bid to ‘to accommodate more students’, it stated in an official school circular earlier.

The move saw the popular school launch a second shift with revised timings – children from Grades 2 to 5 now go to school at 11.15 am and finish at 4.30pm.

This move, said the school at the time, opened up additional places in the kindergarten classes.

However, many working parents complained at the time that the new schedule put an additional burden on them, especially if they had no full-time house help or an additional guardian at home to see off the children to school.

Maj-Gen Al Zafeen’s latest query has raised the topic once again, with many residents immediately sending across their responses on Twitter, with Ahmed Bin Sulayem saying: “Any time is good, as long as it can be different from government and private working hours to avoid excess traffic.”

The ease in traffic thread ran common with several other residents, with Scatman writing: “This is a very good idea; it will decrease the traffic.”

Shameel wrote: “I think it’s good; at least we parents can sleep longer. It will reduce the early morning traffic as well.”

Srinivas Karuturi, who has two school going children in Dubai, had a different concern, whilst agreed with suggestive new timings.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, he explained: “As a parent, I would certainly welcome this move not for me, but for my children who find it very difficult to wake up at 5.45am on weekdays for their school bus pickup at 6.50am.

“Some days, they don’t even have time to eat a proper breakfast. The delayed time would be a welcome relief, yes. However, I disagree that the move would ease traffic conditions.”

He continued: “In fact, I believe it would simply extend the rush hour traffic, which currently ranges from 7am until 9am, and push the slots now from 8am to 10am.”

Alexis Gabbar, a Dubai-based social media strategist, said: “It may not be such a bad idea and prompt more parents into relying on school buses. But affordability is an angle that needs to be covered, considering school transportation doesn’t come cheap.

“Also, for those working parents who start their work day by 8am, a revised school timing may simply not be feasible.”

Mohamed Al-Ghurair appeared to agree who tweeted a similar concern, saying: “Starting school at 7.30am or 8am is much better for students, since most private sector companies start between 8.30am to 9am.”

Abdu Al Matar also disagreed, saying: “I do not support this. Already the air is so hot and with the school day extended, the students will be exhausted after a long and tiring day at school.

“In addition, if the students are commuting home by bus, they are delayed even further to eat their lunch meals.”

Suzette Layoun suggested a slot in between, saying: “Maybe 8:30am till 2:30pm. Though our school back in Lebanon started at 7:30am and that was too early in my opinion.”

Emirates 24|7 reached out to Maj-Gen Al Zafeen but were awaiting a response at time of publishing of this article.

 

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