Schools and universities across the UAE will follow the new four-and-a-half-day work week from 1 January 2022, with Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday forming the new weekend.
Confirming the shift to the new working week, the Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) in Abu Dhabi said it has instructed all principals of private schools to change the weekly work system starting next year. In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) said: “The private education sector in Dubai will be open in line with the recent UAE Government decision on the working week. We’ll be working closely with our community to ensure a smooth transition.”
Schools are preparing for a busy end of the year as they seek to restructure learning programmes in accordance with the UAE’s new working week. From the start of the new term on 3 January, public and private schools will use the new four-and-a-half-day week, which will begin on Mondays and end with a half-day on Fridays. Classes on Fridays must not go beyond 12.00 pm.
From the start of the new term on 3 January, public and private schools will use the new four-and-a-half-day week
The exception is Sharjah, where private schools and universities will work four days a week, with a three-day weekend – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These instructions were issued by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, said Ali Al Hosani, director of the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA).
As the adjustment to a shorter week is undertaken, school leaders are acting rapidly to change timetables, school hours, and breaks to ensure that students do not miss out on learning.
After rising to the challenge of the Covid-19 outbreak, which caused substantial disruption to the education sector, school leaders feel confident in their capacity to adjust quickly and efficiently.
“It may be a matter of maybe 100 minutes a week, but we’re doing some tweaks and modifications to the timetable to make that work. That’s probably the biggest logistical change,” explained Fiona Cottam, Principal at Hartland International School.
“I guess the biggest challenge is the sudden change. We just have to be very adaptable very quickly. But, I think that the pandemic has taught us a lot about adaptability and responding to things with speed and with ease.”
Some schools are considering extending the length of the learning day to ensure that students complete their coursework on time.
“I think that the pandemic has taught us a lot about adaptability and responding to things with speed and with ease”
Embodying the Values of the UAE
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources proposed the new working week following comprehensive benchmarking and feasibility studies, reflecting potential impacts of the move on the economy, on social and family ties and the overall well-being of people in the Emirates. Indeed, there are huge merits to shorter workweeks, with employees feeling happier, healthier and more productive during their working hours.
From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map. It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.
“This is great news for students, families and staff across the UAE education sector”
Ruth Burke, Principal/CEO at the Swiss International Scientific School Dubai (SISD) is very positive about the change and the effect it will have on the current and future workforce, saying: “This is great news for students, families and staff across the UAE education sector. As a nation that wholeheartedly champions well-being, family values and work-life balance, these new changes will further support the UAE in truly embodying these values.
“Additionally, at SISD we are raising our students to be global citizens, and to be part of a global workforce – these changes will further align the UAE with the wider world workforce.”