School out, but exams on: How UAE students tackled rains to attend board finals in person

GCSE and A level board exams take place over several weeks in April, May and June for thousands of students across the world


Nasreen Abdulla

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Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: File
Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: File

Published: Thu 2 May 2024, 8:16 PM

On Thursday, when governments across the UAE announced remote learning, Sharjah resident Naveeda Jukaku was on call with her son’s school to make sure that he would have bus transport to get to and from school to write his board exam.

Her son, Hassan, is a Year 11 student in a British syllabus school in Dubai and had to be on campus to write his exam. The 16-year-old was out and about by 5am to ensure that he was able to reach school on time. “He had a paper at 12.30pm but he was picked up by the school bus at 5.20am,” she said. “No one wanted to take a chance. After they arrived in school, they were put in a conference room for a few hours where they revised before going in for their exams.”

GCSE and A level board exams take place over several weeks in April, May and June for thousands of students across the world. In some cases, the board provides contingency days in case students miss an exam. However, it largely depends on the school and the region on how these contingency days are allotted.

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This isn’t the first time that Hassan was making the trek to school on a day it was remote learning for other students to write an exam. “During the week of the thunderstorm on April 16 as well, I had to go into school to write an exam,” said Hassan. “At the time, we were unprepared for the level of flooding we saw that day. At one point, I had to wade through knee-deep water to get to my bus. But this time around, everyone was much better prepared. My bus driver knew where the water ponds would be and which road to take. Since everyone else was either working from home or doing remote learning, I was actually in school by 6am.”

The UAE experienced another bout of heavy rains, thunderstorm and strong winds on May 2 which prompted authorities in all emirates to switch to remote learning for students. Several flights were delayed, roads blocked and deliveries suspended as the worst of the storm pounded down upon the country on Thursday morning.

Deserted look

According to Hassan, the school wore a deserted look. “It was only students of my grade,” he said. “It was a little bit strange because the school is usually so bustling and full of energy. However, the calm and quiet helped me revise and prepare better.”

Dubai resident Simi, whose children were writing board exam papers on Thursday, said they left the home 1.5 hours ahead of time because of the rain. “Both my twins had papers today,” she said. “My daughter had two papers and my son had one. We arrived in school early as we didn’t want to take any chances. The rain was pouring during the drive to school.”

According to Simi, by pick-up time the sun was out and it was an easy and smooth drive. “The roads were empty and there was no water logging,” she said. “So we had an easy time getting in and out of school.”


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