Schools and Ramadan how they celebrate 

Schools and Ramadan how they celebrate 

The Holy Month of Ramadan is set to begin this month around 17 May and will span throughout the school term. Hence, it is an utmost duty of schools to provide an environment ensuring well-being of students, especially one where they can feel safe to practice their religion. This month’s education feature, hence, focuses on how schools are preparing students for Ramadan, what education they include on the Holy Month of Ramadan, how do they make the month special in schools, and how is the school day different, if at all.

Educating new staff and school community
Schools take various initiatives to educate community members, coming from non-Muslim backgrounds, about the concept and importance of Ramadan. Imad Nasr, Director of Arabic and Islamic of Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS) said, “At Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS), we have a multi-cultural environment with nearly 70 different nationalities and multiple religions. It is therefore important that teachers and classmates who aren’t fasting understand why Muslims fast. To do that, in the run-up to Ramadan we carry out assemblies for both primary and secondary schools about fasting, how it is celebrated around the world and how different cultures mark the Holy Month of Ramadan. In our secondary school we also welcome guest speakers who educate students about a wide array of different topics, including how to eat healthily during Ramadan and the effect that fasting has on the body.” Sabah Rashid, Head of Primary of the Swiss International Scientific School (SISD) in Dubai said, “Our community members can be new to Dubai and often to Ramadan. We communicate the concept of Ramadan to our staff members through HR with comprehensive information about the cultural, religious and celebratory aspects of the month. The Islamic Studies department work with classroom teachers to hold student-led assemblies, maintain displays and offer optional activities. Some non-Muslim children choose to experience fasting.”

Charity and kindness drives
Ramadan teaches the community to be more compassionate, and practice empathy. Hence schools initiate various charity drives to instil the values of kindness in students. Imad Nasr of JBS added, “Kindness, forgiveness and charity are practiced throughout the month in the form of whole school charity drives. Ramadan teaches our community to be more compassionate and empathetic to those who are in need, and many of our students become involved in Dubai-wide charity initiatives. We also try to incorporate kindness, forgiveness and charity into our lessons on a daily basis, helping our students to understand the true meaning of Ramadan.” Sabah Rashid of SISD mentioned, “We participate in the Ramadan Fridge campaign, providing a fridge for the public in our neighbourhood. The fridge is monitored and filled regularly together by the SISD student, parent, and staff community for the entire month of Ramadan. We coordinate a giving campaign whereby those who wish to, fill a bag using a standardised set of items that are then distributed to the construction workers contributing to our beautiful school campus building site for the two additional remaining boarding houses. This provides a comfortable interface between students and workers with evident mutual appreciation.”

Reduced school hours
KHDA announces special school timings during Ramadan. The class lengths are generally reduced to adapt to special Ramadan school hours. Imad Nasr of JBS throwing light on school timings during Ramadan said, “Yes, the school day changes for our entire community. The day gets shorter and the length of classes are adjusted to reflect this. This year’s timings are yet to be confirmed by the KHDA, but last year students were in school from 8:30am until 1:30pm, whilst staff worked from 8am until 2pm.”

Different tasks for students fasting
Besides reduced school hours, there are separate homeworks and assignments for students fasting. The effort is to support students in practising their religious beliefs. Deema Al Alami, Vice President Arabic & Islamic - GEMS Education said, “Teachers also make accommodations for fasting students, for example, PE teachers assign a different task/project for students who fast and are unable to engage in high-intensity exercises.” Designated eat & drink areas for non-fasting members In order to make environment friendly for non-fasting members, schools have designated areas where the non-fasting members can eat and drink without disrespecting the fellow fasting members. Imad Nasr of JBS on being asked about any special reservations for non-fasting members said, “Lunchtime is probably one of the challenges during Ramadan. At JBS, there are designated areas of the school for members of the community who aren’t fasting to be able to eat and drink, whilst still respecting the feelings of fasting students and staff.”

Ramadan fetes
The schools take a step ahead to celebrate the spirit of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Some arrange Iftar meals for the school community to embark on values of sharing and others decorate the corridors with Ramadan themed items. Nikki Sharkey, Deputy Head - Pastoral, Foremarke School Dubai said, “Foremarke will host an annual Iftar, encouraging pupils and parents to join for a scrumptious meal. As a pre-Ramadan treat, the school will also host entertainment and events including a special performance by a professional Arabic Dance Group.”

Deema Al Alami of GEMS Education further added, “Ramadan is a beautiful month in our schools. Schools decorate their corridors with Ramadan themed items such as lanterns, crescents and other ornamental items mostly designed by students and staff. Many schools have different prayers and duaa’s and Ramadan greetings displayed across the school.” Imad Nasr of JBS said, “For staff we hold an Iftar, which encourages both Muslim and non-Muslim staff to join together to mark the breaking of the fast. Prior to Ramadan beginning, our Parent and Friend Association also organise a Ramadan workshop with an array of fun and educational activities designed for the whole family to highlight the upcoming Holy Month.”

Quran competition & cultural education
Sabah Rashid of the SISD said, “Students practice their Quran recitation with Tajweed and can also opt to participate in a recitation competition during Ramadan.  Imad Nasr of JBS said , “ JBS’s International Baccalaureate curriculum is based around encouraging students to become independent enquirers, fostering their research skills. As such, within lessons over the Holy Month, students are encouraged to research how Ramadan is celebrated in different cultures. This learning is integrated into assemblies where students participate in talks and performances, and in Arabic lessons students are encouraged to talk about how Ramadan is marked within their own cultures and communities in Arabic.”

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