UAE parents voice concern over potential academic regression amid prolonged school closures

While parents acknowledge the importance of safety as a result of inclement weather, they also expressed disquiet about extended holidays

by

Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 20 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 4:10 PM

Parents are expressing concern about the academic regression their children may experience, as it has been nearly a month since students in the UAE last attended school except for one day in between.

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While parents acknowledge the importance of safety as a result of inclement weather, they also expressed disquiet about extended holidays resulting in reduced learning time which eventually adds pressure on teachers, students, and families.

Students in international curricula schools last went to their campuses on March 22 with pupils returning to their classrooms only on Monday, April 15 after three-week long Spring and Eid holidays.


In Indian curriculum schools, students returned to their classrooms just for a week in between to commence their new academic year on April 1.

Tuesday’s rain further disrupted classes with schools switching to distance learning for the entire week bearing in mind the safety and well-being of pupils and staff.

Number of holidays disproportionately high

Khaleej Times reached out to several parents in Dubai to understand their worries.

American resident in Dubai, Natalia Miranda said, “The three weeks break is excessive, not to mention the fact that we have to find activities for the children within that time which is often expensive. I can’t have unlimited screen time for my son; it tends to affect his behavior so I’m left to fill the void. Luckily, the weather was great so he could go outside and play during those three weeks.”

Natalia Miranda
Natalia Miranda

She added, “Nobody could have predicted the super storm and it’s about safety so this doesn’t really bother me. We are having Zoom lessons now but as my son is young I need to sit with him during these lessons. To be honest, I’m having flashbacks of Covid lockdown.”

Natalia's son
Natalia's son

Experienced parents emphasize the unnecessary pressure students often face when they're pressed for time to learn.

Baishali Mukherji, who has one child in primary school and another at university, expressed this sentiment.

Baishali's son Siddhartha
Baishali's son Siddhartha

She said, “Distance learning is definitely not a normal day at school and it will not be the same for the next two days. I personally feel that the number of holidays is disproportionately high in Dubai.

"Having sent a child to university last year, I have closely seen the impact of that on the stress it places on teachers to complete syllabus,” she added.

Lack of structured learning

French expat, Marie Dubois who has two school-aged children in International curricula schools, said lack of structured learning and disruption of continuity can result in achievement gaps.

“My younger one is in Year 3 and the older one is in Year 7. In my opinion, there seems to be an excessive number of holidays in Dubai schools relative to other places. Although the aftermath of rains could not be preempted, and student safety is paramount, so, this part is understandable," said Dubois.

"But the number of holidays before the rains makes the children now feel that they are on a perpetual holiday. My fear is this will lead to learning loss and I don’t know how so many days of lost school days can be compensated. It’s almost one month of ‘no school’ barring one day in between when they returned to their classrooms,” Dubois added.

The parent stressed academic continuity to ensure optimal learning outcomes. She pointed out that otherwise, children lose the momentum in their studies.

“I am a working mother, and I can’t attend to them all the time as I need to do my office work as well. My Year 7 son has a serious workload as he is in secondary school now and we have only ten weeks to go before we slip into the summer break."

"With online classes and younger kids, the problem is different. If these children are left on their own, they mostly potter around the house as the school’s discipline can barely be replicated in a home environment. They are unable to do everything by themselves resulting in distractions and lack of focus to complete assignments,” she added.

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