UAE: Some Indian, Pakistani students yet to rejoin school due to high airfares, floods

Residents waited for flight ticket rates to fall after the summer break, but they kept rising

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Photo by Shihab
Photo by Shihab

Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 1:11 PM

Last updated: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 7:53 PM

Many Indian and Pakistani students who went back to their home countries have not been able to return to their classrooms after the summer break.

School principals in the UAE aver that this is due to several reasons, including soaring ticket prices, the festive season in India, and floods in Pakistan.

Airfares from various cities in India to the UAE rose by at least 45 to 50 per cent last month as expatriates returned home after the summer vacations.

Earlier travel agents highlighted a steep rise in demand for air tickets from South Indian sectors such as Kochi, Kozhikode, Chennai, and Bengaluru. They said that the demand for tickets from Mumbai and Delhi had also been rising.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Pramod Mahajan, Director-Principal of Sharjah Indian School says: “At Sharjah schools and particularly in my own school, I (relatively) see a slim attendance after schools reopened after the summer break. That’s because ticket prices from the southern state of Kerala to Sharjah and Dubai is soaring around this time. People looking to book earlier were waiting for the prices to fall but that didn’t happen. Instead, the prices kept rising.”

He adds: “Most people wanted to travel to their home countries as the Covid situation is much better this year. Therefore, families left for India. Now, because of the increasing ticket prices, they are unable to book their return. So they are waiting for the prices to come down a little.”

Mahajan highlighted that another reason for students not joining school in the first week is Covid-19. He says: “Some students have tested Covid positive upon their return and hence cannot join school as a PCR negative report is mandatory for all returning students as mandated by the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA). But the strange part is, many of them do not show any symptoms. On the contrary, there are a few who have PCR negative reports but seem to be displaying some Covid like symptoms.”


Meanwhile, other principals in the country also point out that the floods in Pakistan, where more than 1,100 people have already been killed and 33 million others impacted, have also led to students’ delay in returning to their classrooms this year.

Abhilasha Singh, Principal, Shining Star International, Abu Dhabi, says: “As we know, this year, Pakistan has been hit by the worst monsoon season in over a decade. I have received a few applications from students stating they are stuck in their home country due to the floods. Following the receipt of these applications, I have requested Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) for online classes for these students.”

“Then there are a few students who’ve not been able to return to school due to health-related conditions,” Singh added.

Arogya Reddy Principal, Ambassador School Sharjah opined: “Most pupils have returned to school for the new term. The students who have not returned to school after the summer holidays are rather a small number, for us. I would say absentees are around nine per cent only in our school. But the ones who’ve not returned are probably staying back due to the festivals that they are looking to celebrate in India around this time. Students who are from Maharashtra and Gujarat are planning to spend Ganesh Chaturthi with their loved ones in India. Students who are from Kerala are apparently staying back to celebrate Onam this year. Many have travelled back home after two-and-a-half years since the pandemic began, so I think they want to spend some extended family time during these festivals.”

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