The initiative is called “3.5+1.5=6”. The sum is greater than its parts because learning is not just about what happens in school, and the 1.5 days of time carved out from the school week will be added to the time students already spend developing their own talents at the weekend. The result is not 5 days of 'learning', but 6.
Students can use the time outside the classroom to do internships, learn new languages, practice sports, or earn non-academic, or academic certifications.
Pioneering the initiative is the Indian High School Dubai. From April, all of its 1,312 Grade 11 and 12 students will only have 3.5 days of class. The remaining 1.5 days in the school week will be for students to pursue any academic or non-academic goal, subject to their parents’ and school’s approval.
Off-campus days will be monitored by the school, and attendance in other institutes will be reviewed to ensure productive use of the day.
The announcement marks the launch of the second phase of Rahhal, a programme of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority under the Dubai 10X initiative to innovate and accelerate key sectors, including education.
The school will keep new timings for the school day for those grades, from 7.30am to 3.30pm, so it meets the 30 hours study requirement under the CBSE Indian education board, said Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of the school.
Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director General and Chairman of the Board of KHDA added: “This will be the biggest cohort of students from a single school to enrol in the Rahhal programme and we commend the Indian High School for taking Rahhal mainstream with their pioneering approach to senior school. This flexible, customised approach to schooling will help students prepare for the future, and develop essential skills such as time management, prioritising learning needs, and independence.
“The cornerstone of Rahhal is that it allows schools the freedom to develop innovative solutions and disrupt the norm. We encourage more schools to change the way they approach education, and we hope to see more parents challenge their children’s’ schools to recognise and support the needs of learners in new ways.”
Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation added: “Our aim at Dubai Future Foundation is to reflect the ambition of the UAE leadership to test new ideas. Entities like KHDA, and schools like Indian High School are aligned with our mandate to test new concepts and set an example for the world.
Dr Ashok Kumar, CEO of Indian High School said: “By introducing 3.5+1.5=6, we are giving students in Grades 11 and 12 the opportunity to pursue their passions and design their own learning experience based on individual needs.”
The Indian High School was the first private school in Dubai to pilot a programme under Rahhal with three students.
Meaning traveller in Arabic, Rahhal signifies the world is a classroom, and all learning counts.