Over 700,000 students return to schools tomorrow

Muscat - The new academic year for government schools will begin on September 4, Sunday, even as teaching and non-teaching staff in all governorates of the Sultanate of Oman returned to work last week.

For students, it will also mark the resumption of a normal opening for an academic year that was badly impacted due to precautionary measures imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Around 741,000 students from 1,422 government schools will return to their classes on Sunday in various governorates of the Sultanate of Oman for the new academic year 2022-2023.

Officials have confirmed that all preparations, including the availability of textbooks and the arrangement of school buses, have been made. The number of students in 800 private schools and kindergartens is 130, 000.

Preparations for the new school year began last week with the return of 57,033 teachers, including 39,637 female teaching staff, in addition to 10,834 technicians.

The Ministries of Health and Education said the health of students will be given top priority, as vaccinations will be provided as per the school health program.

Royal Oman Police (ROP) has issued guidelines for bus drivers to ensure the safe transportation of students. The instructions are significant because speeding, negligence, bad behaviour and not keeping a safe distance are among the main causes of traffic accidents in the country, according to the latest statistics. Subsequently, most accidents are due to vehicle collisions or hitting fixed objects.

Colonel Khamis bin Ali al Batashi, Assistant Director General of Traffic, said, "ROP has taken many measures in coordination with the Ministry of Education and in line with the Traffic Law and its executive regulations. The roads will witness traffic congestion, especially at peak times, and therefore traffic patrols will work to facilitate traffic and deal with all that obstructs traffic, especially in places with more congestion than others. Traffic patrols will facilitate the movement of buses, give them priority in traffic, and monitor the extent to which the bus driver adheres to traffic rules and regulations, and the number of allowed on a bus." He said that all drivers of public and private school buses must be careful when approaching student gathering places and not move until after making sure that all students have crossed the streets. They should stop buses in their designated places, whether in front of schools or after work is completed."

The Director-General of Curriculum Development said that most textbooks will be available in time this year, apart from two books that are printed abroad.

He said that there have been changes in the curriculum for the 11th grade with regard to certain subjects. According to the director-general, both institutions and parents have been demanding for expansion of the humanities curriculum.

On the teaching of the French and German languages, he said it has not yet been expanded in all governorates of the Sultanate of Oman, but only certain in specific schools. “There are agreements with the Omani-French Institute and the German GuTech Institute for teaching these languages.

The Ministry of Education has received three of the five approved school buildings in Liwa, which will become functional during the academic year 2022/2023 to keep pace with the expected growth in the number of students.

The Consumer Protection Authority (CPA) has ensured the availability of school materials at appropriate prices.

CPA is currently undertaking several initiatives aimed at raising consumer awareness in various fields.

The number of students expected at government schools in the Al Dakhiliyah Governorate is 106,784, including 10,592 students for class (1) of basic education schools.

The total number of teachers, administrators, and support staff is 9,040 for 160 government and four evening schools.

The number of teachers deployed at the Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah from other governorates is 368, both male and female, while the number of teachers transferred from Al Dakhiliyah to other governorates is 318 and the number of newly appointed teachers is 354.

Meanwhile, several parents told the observer that special care for students should be taken as the day temperatures in the country is still very high in some governorates.

"The operations of school canteens should be also regulated and monitored so that children are provided an appropriate and nutritious diet at an appropriate price. School canteens are not for the purpose of making profits," a parent said

Students of families whose monthly income does not exceed RO 400 are eligible for the school supplies and nutrition initiative, which was launched after Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.

This was decided in a joint meeting of officials from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development in Muscat on Thursday.

The meeting decided to begin a five-day survey starting from September 4 to 8 to count the beneficiaries of low-income groups and social security families.

Parents who wish to avail the scheme should send details by e-mail to the respective schools.

A sum of more than RO 4 million has been allotted for the scheme.

The Ministry of Social Development said that a one-time payment of RO 25 will be disbursed for each eligible student to cover school supplies at the beginning of the school year starting in September. Meanwhile, RO 11-worth vouchers will be given to each needy student to purchase daily meals.

Each coupon will carry a value of 500 baisas to cover a total of 22 school days each month, according to the statement.

The Ministry of Social Development pointed out that it will transfer the approved sums for the students to the bank accounts of the Social Insurance Families, while the Ministry of Education will do the same for low-income families.

The daily meal vouchers will be distributed by the Ministry of Education. The number of beneficiaries stands at 59,030 (24,665 students from Social Insurance Families and 34,365 from low-income families).

The Royal orders drew praise from walis, officials, teachers, and parents.

They said that the scheme will alleviate the burdens and obligations of families, and will contribute to providing an appropriate environment for students from low-income groups to start the new academic year with hard work and dedication.

Source: Oman Observer