The majority of schools in the UAE would likely have completed their internal exams before the commencement of Ramadan.

While the exact dates may vary slightly depending on local moon sightings, this year, the Holy month is anticipated to begin in the country on March 12.

Headteachers highlighted they strive to minimise assessments and keep them low-stakes during Ramadan, prioritising the support for students to dedicate ample time to family and prayer rather than intensive studying.

Nav Iqbal, Principal and CEO, GEMS Metropole School – Motor City, said: “We are currently holding mock examinations for our Year 11, 12, and 13 students. These examinations have been deliberately planned to take place at this time, so they do not coincide with Ramadan or put additional pressure on students during the Holy month. Likewise, all internal assessments for our younger students will be completed before Ramadan starts. Currently, there are no external examinations scheduled or due to be completed by students during Ramadan.”

Principals reiterate they understand the importance of Ramadan among the Muslim families and the personal challenge that this brings.

Therefore, they do not wish to add any unnecessary stress or barriers to their young students during such an important period.

Only low-stake assessments

Helen Hurford, Vice Principal, GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis said: “We don’t have any external exams taking place between now and Ramadan. Instead, we have internal in-class assessments taking place as normal, within secondary lessons. We always aim to keep assessments to a minimum during Ramadan, as we want to support students to have as much time as possible for family and prayer during the Ramadan period, rather than revising.”

She added: “However, in those cases where removing an in-class assessment would be detrimental to student learning and progress, we allow the assessment to go ahead, but only low-stakes with a reduced duration and focus on specific topics. All in-class assessments are referred to as ‘Checks for Understanding’, to ensure they do not cause anxiety for students.

School holidays to overlap with Ramadan

For most international curricula schools, almost 10 days of spring break will coincide with Ramadan.

However, for Indian curriculum schools currently, both internal as well as the CBSE Board examinations are in progress, which means upcoming holidays for these institutions as well.

Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal and Director, Delhi Private School (DPS) Dubai, said: “Internal examinations will conclude by March 6. Board Examinations will conclude on April 2.”

For CBSE schools, March marks the end of the academic year so, instead of a spring break, these institutions observe an ‘End of Academic Year’ break.

“While pre-primary students will enjoy their holidays from March 11, holidays for Grades 1 to 8 will commence on March 18. Students will return to school on April 1, marking the start of the academic year 2024-25,” added Nandkeolyar.

Principals emphasised that for schools conducting exams during Ramadan, they will also ensure that the examinations take place within the abbreviated working hours typically observed during the month.

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO — Principal at Credence High School, said: “During the annual internal exams, the school functions only for half a day and due to this timing it will not make any changes to our schedule for the few exams that are falling in Ramadan.”

Muhammad Ali Kottakkulam, Principal, Gulf Indian High School, Dubai, said: “Our students will have annual exams from February 28. Therefore, two subjects will be conducted during Ramadan. CBSE board examinations for Grades 10 and 12 will end by April 2.”

He pointed out that this year, Ramadan commences three weeks ahead of the new academic year, causing the majority of the students’ short vacation after their annual exams to coincide with Ramadan days, just before the start of the new academic year.

“This means the shortened hours will have less of an impact on managing the academics and planning lessons and timetabling,” added Kottakkulam.

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