School Fantasy and One Million Fingerprints, it would appear that it’s all geared up for the bratpack.
‘Were trying to make school more interesting for the kids,’ said Khalid Al Kasim, Deputy General for Planning and Development.’
Which might seem to underpin the earlier understanding. In reality, the organising committee has, for the first time, extended the scope to include students between the ages of 15 and twenty one. And in addition, the committee have co-opted parents and teachers to be involved in the activities.
‘We have built the progamme to improve the standards of higher education. That is why we have brought the three pillars together – students, parents and teachers,’ says Sultan Ali Lootah, head of the Back-2-School organising committee. ‘The interaction between teachers, families and students will give them (students) confidence and trust in the system. We need to support them and give them that trust and show them that they are our future.’
One element of the week aimed specifically at higher level students is Success Stairs; students accrue points in competition for a special prize. But the unsung heroes are the 40 young men and women who were chosen from Dubai’s universities and colleges to act as supervisors and key staff to run the varied events. The volunteers may start as early as 10 am and work through to 10 pm but they do it with a smile.
‘I enjoy it,’ says Tariq Ibrahim (21) currently taking a foundation course with the University of Dubai. ‘I meet many people and what else would I do in the Summer? Just sit around, eat and …’
‘They give guidance to the kids and teach them some things as well as helping to co-ordinate events,’ says Sultan Ali Lootah, head of the Back-2-School organising committee. ‘And some even give lectures. Because they are of similar ages, we believe that the younger kids will react better but we will see how well they succeed. I don’t believe that a person can really take action until he or she is 22 or 23, the time of graduation. So we need to focus on guidance. That’s why we have involved them in the middle of a programme that covers all sectors: high schools, universities, parents and teachers. The combination of all those parties is very important.’
The students laugh and joke with other in a way that is truly infectious but underlying the good humour is a sense of pride and enthusiasm for the task in hand. They appreciate their positions of responsibility and the fact that their role is not just one of leading but also learning.‘It’s very good,’ says Huda Mohd (20) from the Dubai Ladies’ College, ‘and I’m really improving my communication skills.’
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