New UAE workweek: Parents react as Sharjah schools announce 3-day weekend

The new weekend will come into effect from January 1, 2022



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File photo
by

Michael Gomes

Published: Sun 12 Dec 2021, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Sun 12 Dec 2021, 5:38 PM

Parents have displayed mixed reactions after Sharjah authorities approved a new weekend for all private educational institutions in the emirate.

Schools and other institutions in Sharjah will soon have three days off: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Taking to Twitter, the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) said the new weekend will come into effect from January 1, 2022.

“Further details will be announced in the coming days,” the SPEA said.

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However, parents in the emirate, while welcoming the move that enables employees to strike a better work-life balance, some of them have also raised concerns on how to manage their wards on days when the children will be at home, while their parents will be at work.

Majd Al Khatib, a Syrian expat and single mother of two, opined, “It would be great if I had the same days off. But the private sector is different. It’s not like parents will be off for three days. It would be really difficult for me to go to work while my children are at home. It might be a challenge to keep them productively engaged while parents are at work. So, if people like me are allowed to work half days or allowed flexible hours or work from home, it would be great.”

She adds, “While the initiative is aimed at increasing people’s well-being, the practical issues surrounding it is a cause of concern for most working parents.”

Last week, Sharjah became the first Arab city to implement a three-day weekend. government staff in the emirate will transition into the reduced workweek from January 1, 2022, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend.

Government workers in all other emirates will have a two-and-a-half-day weekend, with Friday serving as a half-day off.

Egyptian resident Howaida Osman who has been in the country for the past 15 years says, “Although, I am a working mother, it isn’t much of a problem for me as my younger one is in Grade 6 and the elder one is in Grade 10. So they can manage on their own. I feel it will increase children’s rest time and overall well-being.”

She adds, “But my concern is this may not go down very well with my kids, as during Covid-19 restrictions, they were at home for an unusually long period of time. They love school, their friends and teachers. At home they have nothing to do especially when both parents are at work. I am also a bit worried that the pandemic may have created learning gaps during the extended period of online learning, which now needs to be addressed, which can best be achieved by going to school and learning onsite. So a three-day holiday feels a bit out of the ordinary.”

Conversely, some expats opine this will drive children to venture into new projects, enrol in various courses and enjoy greater downtime with loved ones during the longer weekends.

“It’s great because a three-day weekend will enable the children to enrol for extracurricular activities and spend more time with family. This will be a great factor in reducing the stress level of kids too. Children will feel more rejuvenated after the weekend thereby increasing their attention span and productivity in school,” said Rini Robins whose children are studying at DPS Sharjah.


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