New academic year begins at Arabic schools.

The new 2020-2021 academic year began yesterday at public and private Arabic schools, with classes held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. At some schools, teachers conducted online classes from classrooms, while other teachers taught students from home. The new school year at non-Arabic private schools began weeks ago.

Many teachers, parents and students expressed their support for the new virtual learning system adopted by the ministry of education, but there are concerns too, especially regarding primary and kindergarten students. “My feeling today is a mix of wariness and happiness because schools finally reopened. But I am not very convinced with online classes. I don’t know whether my kids will be able to learn,” said Mariam Al-Zankawi, a mother of four young children.

“I still prefer traditional schooling because kids are on the school campus and are instructed by teachers. They can learn quickly because they compete with their peers,” she told Kuwait Times. “One of my children is in grade 1, so I know he will need help once in a while. I am working at a ministry, so that’s a problem. But my eldest daughter is 21 and waiting to be employed, so she is supervising her brother during online classes. Many families facing a similar problem have entrusted supervision of their children to their housemaids,” Zankawi said.

“Before the start of classes today, the school conducted ample training for teachers and students, so I know everything will be okay. We are prepared, but we all have to understand the situation right now,” she said. “We can use desktop computers, laptops or tablets for the online classes and must have a speedy Internet connection. So I bought devices for my three children. We were told to select a quiet and comfortable place and all distractions must be removed from the room. We were also told to guide our children if needed,” added Zankawi.

Sarah Abdullah Al-Kandari, a single mother, said her children are ready for online classes. She said since she is not working, she will be by the side of her students. “We are all experiencing a new and extraordinary era and things are not easy for parents, teachers and students, but we have to do what is right. My students are in high school and they know what to do,” said Kandari, whose daughters are in grade 11 and 10 and son in grade 8.

“For me, it’s a blessing, as I can help them because I will be at home all the time. It’s also restful because usually I take them to school every day,” she told Kuwait Times. Kandari’s husband died a few years ago and she is raising her three children alone. “I am not working anymore, but all of my kids are supported by the Kuwaiti government,” she added.

Classes for kindergarten will be held from 8 am to 9:30 am, with four classes daily of 15 minutes each. Elementary students will have four 30-minute classes for each subject from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Intermediate students will have four 30-minute classes daily from 8 am to 10:30 am, while secondary students will also have four classes daily from 10:40 am to 1:30 pm.

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