Waking up later, fun Ramadan activities: How students spent the first day of holy month in school

Some Indian curriculum students also appeared for their board exams


Nandini Sircar

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File photo used for illustrative purpose
File photo used for illustrative purpose

Published: Thu 23 Mar 2023, 5:57 PM

It was a special day for schools across the UAE with a ‘positive atmosphere’ everywhere as the holy month of Ramadan was embraced with enthusiasm across different institutions.

Some students in Indian curriculum schools also took their board exams on the first day of Ramadan.

Some school circulars alerted students about changed bus timings. “In lieu of the board examination tomorrow 23/03/2023 and on 05/04/2023, please note the bus timings (on these two days)…”

Schools switch to shorter working hours

Meanwhile, a majority of UAE schools effortlessly switched to Ramadan operating hours with the traffic situation being more or less smooth across different emirates during the drop-off and pick-up timings.

Some areas witnessed temporary tailbacks and slow-moving traffic at peak hours as school buses hit the roads early, much before the usual pick-up hours.

Emma Shanahan, Principal of Aspen Heights British School, says, “We have been excitedly preparing for Ramadan for some time. Our entire community was poised and ready to shift seamlessly to our adjusted hours. Many children are fasting for the very first time, and families have been very helpful in completing our ‘fasting form’ so we are fully aware of the students who are fasting and can support them appropriately.”

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) earlier reduced the school timings to operate for five hours during Ramadan.

Institutions must allow a maximum of five hours of classes during Ramadan and should finish before 12 noon ahead of Friday prayers.

“Our children have been given the choice to use some of our quiet and reflective areas during break time if they do not wish to be outdoors. There are also some fun Ramadan activities for our pupils to participate in during breaks. Our students hosted Ramadan assemblies where they shared details on how Ramadan should be observed,” Shanahan added.

Schools have complete plans and a full programme of activities chalked out for the time students are in school.

Neal Oates, Principal of Star International School, Mirdif, says, “It (Ramadan) has been a very smooth transition for our (school) community. We have shared information related to Ramadan and the school with our families over the last few weeks. We have closely followed procedures and plans from previous years. Our parents are already familiar with how things would be.”

Andy Kai-Fong, Head of Secondary at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, opines, “It was wonderful to see students and staff wishing each other ‘Ramadan Kareem’ as they arrived for the school day. We look forward to the calm and introspective underpinnings of Ramadan to impact the tone here at school after the Spring break. Communication before the start of Ramadan meant the large majority of our communities were well informed and prepared for the changes to procedures and timings. This all contributed to the smooth start.”

Dual learning provision on Friday

Using feedback from the KHDA survey, some schools will be offering the dual provision of onsite and online learning on Fridays.

“Our survey indicated an almost even split of parents wanting face-to-face vs online learning provision, we will be offering both options to families. Classes will be as normal for the two Fridays of the term and will be supplemented with a synchronous online learning provision which looks slightly different depending on age groups and subjects. As a positive spin-off from the Covid period, staff are well-prepared to offer both these options,” adds Fong.

K. George Mathew, Principal/CEO, GEMS United Indian School – Abu Dhabi, says, “We have made certain plans for Ramadan. As we are practising High Performance Learning (HPL) in our school, our community will follow Self-Regulation and Empathy, which are the characteristics of HPL, during the holy month.”

Families adjust to Ramadan schedules

Meanwhile, families are also adjusting to the new Ramadan schedules as they hail the revised school timings during this month.

Indian expat Bhaya Rao said, “I woke my daughter up early, as usual, at around 6.10am. I remembered that I had to pick her up from school early today but somehow it slipped my mind that the morning drop-off time had changed. It's only when my daughter reminded me of the new timings that I checked my phone and read messages about the school timings on the WhatsApp group. I realised that the classes will commence late. So, my daughter went back to sleep again.”

She adds, “However, upon reaching the school I found that the school doors were still closed as we had reached about 10 minutes earlier. There were quite a few families like me whose children were also patiently waiting for the gates to open.”

Canadian expat, Shukri Deria, whose children go to Raha International School, Gardens campus in Abu Dhabi, opines, “The day went off quite well. My kids are fasting. My son is 10 and he may end his fast soon. My daughter who is older will fast throughout the day. In the morning, the traffic wasn’t bad during the school drop-off time because we started early but in the afternoon the traffic was horrible because everybody was going home at the same time.”

“There is a presence of Ramadan at the entrances of the school. They’ve done three lovely boards. The overall feeling today is different,” she added.


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