With reporting from Nada Badawi and Ankita Menon
Citing the onset of the summer heat, the Supreme Education Council (SEC) has told government-run independent schools in Qatar to reduce their school day by 1.5 hours from June 1.
The directive means that independent schools must now finish teaching by noon every day, instead of their usual completion time of 1:30pm. Teachers, however, would continue with normal working hours, the Peninsula reports.
Schools have been asked to adjust timetables so “core subjects” are not affected by the shorter hours.
The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the changes.
Earlier this month, local Arabic daily Al Raya ran a story that featured comments from parents urging the SEC to make the change. Gulf News translates:
“Students cannot really focus on their studies after midday and they should be allowed to go home,” one parent told the paper. “Shorter hours would stimulate their concentration and would reinforce their desire to learn and to achieve academically.”
According to the SEC’s latest annual report, independent schools already have the fewest number of teaching hours per week in Qatar, compared to private Arabic schools and international schools. The report stated that teachers spend:
- 21 hours/week in lessons in international schools;
- 16.5 hours/week in private Arabic schools; and
- 13.6 hours/week in independent schools.
Private schools unaffected
So far, it seems that the ruling does not apply to private schools in Qatar, which are allowed to set their own school hours.
Some school systems, such as those from India and the Philippines, require schools to teach during the summer months.
Speaking to Doha News, the Ideal Indian School told us that they have not been notified of any changes to their school hours, which currently run from 6:50am to 1:20pm for all students. The school will, however, operate shorter hours during Ramadan.
The Philippine School Doha also confirmed that its school hours will remain the same when the school year begins next month.
Meanwhile, staff at British curriculum school Doha College also told us they had not received any new guidance from the SEC, and that they planned to continue with existing school hours until the end of the summer term late next month.
Similarly, Compass International school also said they had heard nothing about new school hours from the SEC.
While the alterations to school hours are unusual, they come at a time when Qatar is experiencing one of its hottest May months in years.
And last-minute changes to school term dates are not unprecedented here.
Last November, for example, most private schools were told to alter their February 2014 mid-term breaks, in an effort to harmonize the school calendar across Qatar.
And in September last year, a move to unify summer holidays in Qatar meant that some schools were unable to open to students on the dates they had planned.