The initiatives are meant to foster a sense of giving in the community
Schools across the UAE will reopen over the course of this week and the next after the spring break. With the academic term coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan, schools are hosting activities that reinforce the need to be sensitive, generous and tolerant. Springdales School Dubai, for instance, is organizing trips to labor accommodations for students to distribute food items.
“We used to have such trips before the Covid pandemic hit. We will be resuming it after a gap of two years,” said Zubair Ahmad, head of Operations, Springdales.
A supervisor will take about 15 students to the accommodations in a bus every week.
Students and staff will also collect packaged food and other essentials like rice, pulses, and sugar to be distributed among auxiliary staff like drivers, nannies and cleaners. Ahmad shared a photo of one such distribution drive the school had previously hosted:
“This will foster a sense of giving in the community. We will also be resuming on-campus Iftar parties as we used to before Covid restrictions were imposed,” added Ahmad.
At CBSE curriculum schools, the new academic year begins with this term. One school principal in Dubai has reported an “inordinately high number of new students enrolled this year”.
“As the academic year begins during the holy month of Ramadan, the considerate 5-hour-day will help our students and teachers who are fasting and this is a wonderful time for the community to come together and appreciate this wonderful land we call home, ” said Nargish Khambatta, principal/CEO, GEMS Modern Academy, and vice-president – Education at GEMS Education.
During the holy month, school hours in Dubai are capped at a maximum of five. This is reduced further on Fridays.
Non-Muslim students, staff fast in solidarity
According to Khambatta, the school will be hosting a family Iftar gathering on April 22.
“Many non-Muslim students and staff fast along with their friends on the day as an expression of solidarity.”
The ‘Goodness Fridge’ is a student-initiated “annual act of kindness” where students and staff bring in fruits, juices, flavored yogurt, and vegetables for the support staff:
The school also hosts a Ramadan Quran Reading Challenge for Islamic students, teachers and parents.
“Students are encouraged to record their daily good deeds, charity, and experiences on a padlet link,” said Khambatta.
Special considerations for fasting students
Fatima Martin, GEMS New Millennium School principal, said non-Muslim students would have their snacks in the lunch hall — away from the fasting students.
“They have been sensitized about their peers who are fasting and to observe the general norms pertaining to the holy month of Ramadan.”
A major initiative the school hosts is the simulation of Islamic pilgrimage, Umrah, for all students.
Students are encouraged to maintain a Ramadan log and engage in acts of kindness.
“Assemblies at NMS during the holy month of Ramadan carry the message of tolerance, mercy and generosity,” added Martin.
‘Will not miss even a single fast’
Arwa Mueez, a seventh grader at Indian High School, said she would fast throughout Ramadan. She said this is the only month in the year to boost one’s physical health and spirituality.
“I have been fasting from an early age, and will continue to do so. Once you are mentally prepared, it is very easy to keep the fast going,” the 12-year-old said.
“Resting after school and not thinking about food will make it less tiring.”