Institutions following foreign curricula seek exemptions.
Educational institutions and parents are scrambling for answers as many questions remain unanswered following the Ministry of Education's announcement last week about unifying academic calendars of schools, colleges and universities across the UAE.
The Ministry of Education had announced that holidays for all public and private schools, colleges and universities across the UAE are to be unified from the next academic year, starting this September.
While the ministry does not mention any exceptions to the decision, it is yet unclear whether the decision includes schools following Asian curriculum (such as Indian and Pakistani curriculum schools), which begin their academic year in April.
Colleges following foreign curricula also said they are unsure how they would be able to fit in their semesters and exam plans, which are often aligned to their parent campuses outside the UAE, to the dates fixed by the ministry.
The decision to begin the 2013 summer holidays for all educational institutions on July 7 evoked mixed reactions among families too — questioning if the summer holidays will be cut short as compared to previous years when some schools close in mid-June.
When Gulf News contacted the ministry for clarification, a spokesperson asked us to contact the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) for answers about how the unification of academic calendars will be implemented in Dubai — whether or not all private schools will be affected and whether educational institutions can apply for exemptions.
However, when contacted, the KHDA refused to comment on the announcement saying clarification should be sought from the ministry as the announcement was made by them.
An official at the ministry, who declined to be named, said that it is most likely that Asian schools are not part of the decision since they follow a completely different academic calendar. And another source at the KHDA said that the document sent to KHDA from the ministry, which does not mention any exceptions, is all they know of the decision.
The unification of the academic calendar for the academic year 2012-2013 came under an agreement between the Ministries of Education and Higher Education.
"Apart from being a complete surprise coming after all schools have already published their 2012/2013 calendars, this decision is entirely incompatible with the image and practice of the UAE, as providing a welcoming and productive environment for people of all cultures and backgrounds," a resident, who asked not to be named, said.
"Each curriculum is aligned with the timings and programmes of their points of origins which have their own calendars and structures. Forcing the UAE-based schools to follow a different calendar will totally disrupt these programmes affecting exam schedules, non-school programmes and even teacher recruitment."
"It is important to keep in mind that no other country forces expatriate-oriented schools to follow an academic schedule different from their home country. The rationale of ‘family vacations' is illogical since anyone in the situation of having children in different schools with different holidays has made that decision and is responsible for the consequences of their choices," he said.