Updated on June 18 with new information about schools’ latest timetables.
At least a handful of private schools in Qatar have announced last-minute changes to their teaching hours in Ramadan after the Supreme Education Council (SEC) issued a circular to all non-government schools and kindergartens yesterday.
The letter from the SEC’s Private Schools Office Director, Hamad Mohammed Al Ghali Al Marri, was received by schools at 1pm yesterday.
It states that a five-hour working day, from 9am until 2pm, should be adhered to during the holy month, which is expected to begin either tonight or tomorrow evening.
“According to the circular No. 4 of the year 2015 of his Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs- it was decided that the official working hours in the holy month of Ramadan are 5 hours every day, from 9am to 2pm,” an English translation of the letter says.
While no official reason was given in the letter, a later start would mean those who are fasting and up in the early hours of the morning for suhoor would not need to wake so early in the morning to take children to school.
These hours also align with the official working day for those in the public and semi-government sectors during Ramadan.
However, following the 9am to 2pm schedule would have required some private schools to push back the start of their day by 90 minutes to two hours.
And if all schools and ministries followed the same schedule, roads would be particularly busy around these times.
Some schools, including the International School of London Qatar (ISLQ) and Birla Public School (BPS), confirmed to Doha News that they will change their school day to follow the wording of the letter.
ISLQ’s SEC communications coordinator Mirna Shebbani said that the school would operate from 9am to 2pm and had “immediately” informed parents of the new timetable.
It had previously planned for the school day to run for five hours from 8am until 1pm until the last day of its term on June 25.
Most schools in Qatar had already announced measures to shorten the length of their during the hotter weather and for the month of Ramadan, although some had scheduled to operate for more than five hours.
For example, earlier this month, BPS cut its school day by about an hour, to run for five and a half hours from 7am until 12:30pm due to “extreme weather conditions.”
A BPS representative initially told Doha News that the principal decided this morning to change the school day to run from 9am to 2pm and would be contacting parents today to advise them.
However, by the start of Ramadan (June 18), the school announced that it had changed its school day to run from 7.30am-12.30pm.
Many other Indian curriculum schools in Qatar have also adopted the same timetable, although Ideal Indian School’s day starts at 9am and runs until 12.30pm during Ramadan, while Doha Modern Indian School has implemented a 9am-2pm school day.
However, other schools said they have shortened their day to comply with the five-hour rule, but chosen to keep their working hours similar to before.
Doha English Speaking School (DESS) headteacher Andy Yeoman sent a letter to its parents late this morning, advising them of a slight change to the school day, with the school set to start around 10 to 20 minutes earlier than usual at 7:20am during Ramadan.
Classes will finish at 12:25pm for children from pre-school to Year 2, and at 12:30pm for children in years 3 to 6.
During the rest of the school year, children from Reception to Year 6 at the school usually finish classes between 1:45 and 2pm.
Advising parents of the change, Yeoman added:
“The SEC message from Mr. Hamad Al Ghali Al Marri, Director of the SEC Private Schools Office, was very apologetic for the late notice, especially as they had previously approved our reduced hours of 7:20am to 1pm.”
Doha College headteacher Mark Leppard also sent a letter to the school community, advising them of new changes to the timetable once Ramadan is officially declared.
Students at Doha College will start at 7am and classes will finish at noon, Leppard stated. The school had previously planned to shift the school day earlier by 10 minutes, with classes scheduled to start at 7:20am and end at 1pm.
Meanwhile, Park House English School told Doha News it would also shorten its day, expecting it to start at 8am until 1pm, rather than 7:30am to 1:30pm.
Has your school been affected by the changes? Thoughts?