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Dubai Abulhoul: Towards a more productive approach to summer vacations
March 26, 2016
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As I realised how close ‘exam season’ and final exams are, I couldn’t help but reflect on the approach educational systems, and society in general, have taken towards the way students spend their summer vacations. Every year, and especially back in high school, we as students would work tirelessly to ace our final exams and finally have our much awaited, and arguably much deserved, three months off. A typical day in our summer vacation would be staying up all night watching back to back episodes of the latest shows, with a cup of instant noodles between our hands, and waking up no earlier than on the noon of the following day. Such a routine would be repeated for weeks, until the much anticipated ten-day vacation to Europe would get closer, and right before we knew it, we would be back in our classrooms, and it was September once again.

The educational systems in our country, primarily through the Ministry of Education, provide year-long plans for students to help them excel in their academic lives, but have unfortunately neglected, or haven’t paid close attention to, what their students are passionate about and how they can help them use their time off more productively and more in line with future goals and potential career paths. I find it confusing as to why the three months of Summer have not been looked at as a golden opportunity to help and guide students into exploring career options, and taking part in extracurricular activities that will help them get a better idea of where they want to go and what they want to be in the future.

I’m not talking about one-week volunteering programmes, or three-week art classes to keep students busy or distracted during the summer. Even Summer Schools in the country, which tend to involve more than just academics, have failed to grasp the interest and excitement of students. What I am suggesting is mentorship programmes introduced by educational systems, and preferably by the Ministry itself, that will involve students in guided internships, philanthropic trips abroad, and leadership programmes during the summer. Such an approach will help ease a student’s transition from school to college, and from college to the workplace. Students will also have a chance to excel in guided activities and initiatives they wouldn’t have otherwise participated in during the school year, due to exams and academic rigour. Students will also have the space to explore the fields they are interested in, before committing to a major or a job. Moreover, companies and the schools themselves will benefit from the fresh perspective offered by the students.

Our educational systems should grasp the fact that a student’s learning process does not stop in May and resume in September. The months in between the end of a school year and the beginning of a new one should be looked at as an extension of a student’s education. We no longer live in a time where grades are the only measure of success, and what a student does outside of class is just as, if not more, important, than what he or she does or learns inside the class itself, and it’s about time our educational systems realised that change.

 
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The author is an Emirati novelist-writer
 

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