3-day weekend for students: How Sharjah policy changed school, family life

Students, parents hail more family time, organised days and quality learning while schools are happy about better productivity

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Wed 26 Apr 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 26 Apr 2023, 6:02 PM

“I keep aside a whole day for schoolwork during the three-day weekend without interruptions and distractions, which has improved my overall performance,” said Aasiya Jukaku, student of 12th grade at Al Ansar International School in Sharjah.

A recent study by the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) showed that the three-day weekend has enhanced time management and productivity and helped students achieving quality learning outcomes. The study was conducted to measure the impact of the four-day work week on productivity and the quality of life in the educational community in Sharjah.

The study was conducted based on a survey completed by more than 7,000 educational and administrative staff as well as more than 31,000 families of over 70 nationalities, whose children attend 127 private schools in Sharjah.

“It also allows me to do my assignments with more enthusiasm and productivity, as I get enough time off. Moreover, it motivates me to make a schedule and follow it to manage my time efficiently,” said Jukaku.

Students said that the three-day weekend has benefited them in educating on how to manage between school life and home life effectively. “Many of my friends had issues bonding with their own family due to the pressure of studies or the time-consuming tasks the school gives. However, now they dedicate a whole day just to spend with their families, promoting a healthier home life,” said Hanaa Shabandri, 12th Year student at Brilliant International Private School, Sharjah.

With many students’ increased interest in extracurricular activities, the 3-day weekend boosts their motivation to try and start new leisure activities rather than spending time only on finishing assignments and homework. “Personally, I like exploring different novels and artwork to do during my free time. Still at the end of the weekend, I have enough time to complete my assignments, balancing my school life and my leisure time,” said Shabandri.

Mariam Al Naqbi, student in Year 9, GEMS Wesgreen International School, Sharjah, said that the long weekend helps her complete additional revisions and recap her lessons and has given her more time to complete pre-lesson preparation for the week ahead.

“The additional day has increased the flexibility to complete my homework and assignments. I now have the choice to complete my assignments at my own pace,” said Al Naqbi.

She added: “I enjoy having more time with family and friends, while also dedicating some time to study. My grandparents live very far away from my school in Khor Fakkan and it is great getting to spend more time with them. Also, there is that dedicated time to reflect, pray and attend mosque with family and friends,”

How have the schools benefitted?

School managements say that the duration of the school day has been slightly increased to ensure that the curriculum is completed.

A longer school day in a four-day week does have several benefits, say school principals.

“Firstly, for many parents it better aligns with working hours, making it easier for them to manage their schedules. Secondly, students have an extra day to rest and recharge, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. A longer weekend can also provide more time for family and extracurricular activities, which can contribute to overall well-being,” said James McDonald, principal/CEO, GEMS Wesgreen International School, Sharjah.

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Teachers have recorded that students come to school more energised and ready to learn with improved performance that can be directly related to the improved delivery of lessons.

Principals affirm that staff have also been very positive about the move to a four-day week in Sharjah. “Our school weeks are busy but very productive in terms of high-quality teaching and delivering on student progress. Well-being is at the heart of the four-day week, and it really does bring a happiness factor. It does mean a very demanding four days in school for both teachers and students, but I believe the benefits outweigh the cons,” said McDonald.

Parents delighted with improved results

Naveeda, a parent residing in Sharjah, believes in promoting social interaction to enhance social skills “which is a huge part of our religion and also well-being”.

“With the long weekend, I love that the kids are more available so that we can do family activities together. We all go together to attend Islamic classes at Jumeirah, and we alternate this with kids’ art or sports classes on Saturdays or Sundays,” said Naveeda.

Maha Yousuf, whose daughter is studying at GEMS Wesgreen International School, said that the long weekend is highly beneficial. “There is more quality time to spend with family in a stress-free week. We can enjoy more time exploring parks and some of the wonderful attractions that the UAE has to offer. We can get everything organised and plan for the week ahead — including the completion of household chores, food shopping, etc,” said Yousef.

ayaz@khaleejtimes.com


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