In a bid to further improve educational standards across the UAE, the Ministry of Education is soon set to issue a circular banning resource-intensive homework and assignments for schoolchildren.
A senior official at the education regulator confirmed to Gulf News that the decision will apply to public and private schools across the country, and that it is currently in the works.
“The aim is to ensure that schoolchildren get the maximum benefit from the projects they are assigned. A circular to this effect will be issued within the next few weeks,” he said.
According to the official, the Ministry has received complaints from parents who say they are forced to buy a lot of materials to complete school projects. In some cases, parents even resort to buying completed projects from professionals.
“Such assignments yield no benefit for students, who do not learn anything from completing them. Homework should not be resource-intensive, requiring massive financial outlays from parents, or age-inappropriate in a way that it cannot be completed by the children to whom it is assigned,” the official added.
He however said that the regulation has not yet been communicated to schools across the UAE.
Parents welcomed the decision, saying that it would ease the burden for them.
Alex Le Chef, 39, a French-Syrian public relations director based in the capital, said his nine-year-old daughter is regularly asked to complete projects that require a host of materials.
“For a recent science project, she had to construct a model of the solar system, for which I had to find everything from glitter, glue, wiring, and cardboard. All of this cost me more than Dh100, and much of it was to ensure that my daughter’s project impresses her peers and teachers. I don’t want to disappoint her but in the process, the whole assignment requires a lot of time and effort on my part too,” Le Chef said.
He added that such assignments can also create unhealthy competition among children, who simply want their submissions to be the best but do not end up learning much from finishing them.
“In my opinion, materials should be provided by schools. In many cases, I have had to send a note of apology because I could not find the materials. It isn’t always as easy as schools make it out to be, and I am sure all parents would appreciate it if teachers could also give advance notice, perhaps even months earlier, before a project is assigned,” he added.
Vilpa Nayak, 36, an administration officer from India working in Dubai, said she has not yet had to face the pressures of intensive school assignments.
“My son is about to start Grade 1 next month, and the ministry’s upcoming regulation is good news for working parents like me. I’ve seen many a friends scrambling to get the supplies required for school projects, or struggling to complete a school project given their own time limitations,” she said.
In certain schools, educators already insist that projects be completed within school hours.
“While we haven’t received the ministry circular on this subject, our teachers ensure that assignments are age-appropriate and curriculum-specific. We also have STEM laboratories in schools, and we prefer that children use them to complete project-based work,” said Rajendran Padmanabhan, head of operations at Global Indian International Schools group.