Students board a school bus on the first day after summer vacation in Sharjah. John Varghese / Gulf Today
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Schools in the UAE sprang back to life for the first day of the new academic year on Sunday. Institutions running under British, American and the Ministry of Education curriculums started a new academic year, while Indian and Pakistani schools resumed the second semester of the academic year.
Once again, the highlight of the first day of the school reopening remained traffic jams in Sharjah and Dubai. Residents of Sharjah experienced unprecedented traffic chaos. Children studying in Dubai schools and their parents were hit the most. However, the police officials were making all efforts to remove any hurdle that could lead to students' delay in reaching schools.
It promises to be an exciting year ahead as GEMS Education, which runs the biggest network of schools in the UAE, introduces a host of innovative programmes and teaching methods that will expand the opportunities available to the 125,000 students enrolled across its 48 UAE schools, of which 18,000 are newly enrolled. In addition, some 1,800 new teachers have joined the network, each carefully picked for their individual expertise and talents, and collectively adding immeasurable value to not only GEMS Education schools, but also the country’s education sector as a whole.
Sir Christopher Stone, Chief Education Officer of GEMS Education, said, “Back-to-school marks the beginning of an important chapter in the lives of children. We are really looking forward to welcoming all of our students and staff for an exciting year ahead. Being at a school that is part of GEMS Education, which has a 60-year legacy in the UAE, means that students and staff are members of an extended family, and we want to do everything we can to help each and every one of them reach their full potential.”
Fatima Martin, Principal of New Millennium School, Dubai, said, “The new term heralds new energies and new ideas, setting the pace for high achievement throughout our school community. We are delighted to welcome back our students, who will see this vision through to reality. Our students have been actively engaged in many activities over the summer, including the Singularity University Global Summit in San Francisco, the #8WeekStreak from KHDA, as well as highlighting their summer travels and internships on social media using #NMSHolidays. We can’t wait to hear the buzz, the chatter and the laughter that our students bring to our school.”
In the new academic year, New Millennium School is set to host its very first TEDx, the senior school will present its theatre production ‘Selfie’, and the school will host numerous events, including a Primary Swim Gala and World Cultures Week.
Neil Matthews, Principal of Wellington Academy – Al Khail, Dubai, said, “As the new school year begins, I am very excited about welcoming our new and returning students and their families. Every member of the team is really looking forward to the year ahead and to the many achievements of our students. I am immensely proud of our school community and the countless experiences and opportunities our students embrace with enthusiasm and excitement. Over the summer break, we saw a second year of exceptional GCSE results, undertook several exciting projects to enhance our learning environments, received some wonderful feedback from our parents, and saw the highest number of teachers return to Wellington Academy in its history. We are all so excited about the year ahead.”
Over the course of the coming year, Wellington Academy is set to continue to enrich its curriculum with a focus on student wellbeing, leadership and community service, added Matthews.
For the past few days, children flocked to the markets with their parents to purchase shoes, socks, schoolbags, lunch-boxes and other accessories for their children. Children studying in Indian and Pakistani schools were as enthusiastic as their counterparts in British and American curriculum schools, despite the fact that they were going to join only the second semester of the academic year.
While schools and classrooms might not look and operate quite the same as earlier in the year, given the numerous health and safety measures in place, students and teachers were still visibly pleased to be reunited and learning together once more.
The KHDA encouraged parents and students to focus on the positives of the school reopening while ensuring preventive measures are strictly followed.
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