NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Abu Dhabi school triumphs in QuizYT
DUBAI — APRIL 28: The Abu Dhabi Indian High School triumphed over more than 40 schools in the senior and junior categories of this year's QuizYT. The annual quiz competition held yesterday at Shaikh Rashid Auditorium of Indian High School, attracted nearly 400 students from various schools across the emirates.
Trailing in the second place were Our Own English High School (senior) and Dubai Modern High School (junior).
QuizYT was organised with the objective of promoting an appreciation for learning among today's youth. Questions asked during the day-long event covered various topics from science, technology, sports, history, literature, general information, and current events.
Presented annually by the Young Times, the youth magazine from the publishers of Khaleej Times, the QuizYT is considered to be the largest inter-school quiz in the UAE. Divided into senior quiz and junior quiz categories, it was open to students of English medium schools in the country.
Equipped with pens and papers as they answered questions from quiz master Siddhartha Basu, the participants said they saw the event as a challenge of wits and a venue where they could interact with students of other schools.
"When our school selected us for the QuizYT, we took the challenge because there's lots of other schools, not just from Dubai but from all over the country participating in the competition," said 17-year-old Mobin Abdul Razak Kanjiani of Al Diyafah School.
Thirteen-year-old Priyanka Bombhi of Central School, Dubai said she and her schoolmates even made new friends during the competition. "Because the event has gathered so many schools together, there's a dynamic interaction among students," she said.
Bombhi's teammate, Sneha Menon, added that some of the questions asked during the competition also supplemented their knowledge. "We came prepared but, obviously, there would be questions that are new to us. We saw that as new nuggets of information," she mentioned.
Contestants said they had to prepare for the QuizYT by doing researches over the Internet, as well as reading books, educational magazines, newspapers, and quiz trivia materials.
Schools turning blind eye to private tuition
DUBAI — APRIL 27: Despite the Ministry of Education (MOE) prohibiting private and public schools from taking private tuition, some schoolteachers reportedly continue to openly flout the law.
Parents of some students allege that some teachers choose to ignore weak students in their classes and, instead, encourage them to take private tuition after school hours for a fee. While most schools stress that they do not officially encourage their teachers to privately coach students, they prefer to turn a blind eye to the phenomenon.
Moreover, schools and teachers pin the blame on parents and insist it's at their behest that they are forced to tutor students after school hours.
However, parents like Shanti Sundar question the ethics of teachers. "Why cannot a teacher do justice to a weak student in the class if they can the same from the comfort of their homes?" she asks.
In fact, many parents claim that teachers take more than 20 students at a time for private tuition.
Emphasising that tuition are not legally allowed, K.N.N Pillai, Principal of Sharjah Indian School, said, "If the objective of a teacher is to make money, it is extremely unethical. Teachers should not take up the profession if they want to commercialise education. We tell teachers that it's not a healthy practice and also advise students not to go to tutors from the same school."
While some schools, like the Sharjah Indian School and Delhi Private School (DPS), hold remedial coaching classes in their premises after school hours, some prefer to approach a teacher.
Rashmi Nandkeolyar, Principal of DPS Dubai, maintained: "We have students from diverse backgrounds and CBSE syllabus is difficult. So if a parent is desperate, we don't condone them and our teachers do help them out for a couple of months. But we are careful about not making it a business."
When Khaleej Times contacted a few teachers who take private classes, they refused to answer queries and questioned why they were being singled out when there were so many others who were doing the same.
However, some of the parents contended that there were teachers who distributed pamphlets at popular spots to attract students for tuition.
Lakshmi Ramu, a teacher from DPS, Sharjah, said that realistically, tuition are not banned. "It can't be stopped even though it's illegal. Many parents feel that schools are not doing enough despite the numerous special classes schools hold," she pointed out, adding that, sadly, parents want tutors even for their kids studying in KG and Grade I.
The Ministry and educational zones are also trying to do their best to combat the phenomenon. Khalifa bin Faris, the Director-General of Dubai Educational Zone, said, "Private tuition in private schools is taking place under the protection and blessing of their management, so as to compensate the teachers for their poor salaries."
Mohamed Salem Al Dhahiri, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Educational Zone, said that there should be a kind of controlling and monitoring by the school as well by the parents. While the Abu Dhabi Educational Zone issued circular to schools, he observed that it was a thorny issue and that it was the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that private classes do not take place.
However, principals and teachers do concede that the solution does not lie in stopping the tuition system entirely. They say the solution lies in ensuring that it does not get commercialised. There are teachers who take classes albeit without charging a fee.
"Teaching free is not the solution but teachers can take small batches of students instead of taking large groups and making it a business," said Ashok Kumar, the CEO and Principal of Indian High School.
Snake scare in courtyard
AL AIN — APRIL 27: Ahmed Ali Al Shamsy, a resident of Al Ain, had an unwelcome guest at his house recently. So unwelcome that he was completely stunned! A one-metre-long yellow snake was slithering around in his courtyard where his children were playing.|
And, he said, this was not the first time that he spotted a snake in his house. According to him, apparently poisonous yellow snakes have been seen in not only his house, but in many houses in the entire Al Maqam area in Al Ain.
"The number of snakes has increased recently after the rise in temperatures," he pointed out. Al Shamsy's mother claimed she had seen the same snake in her garden some time back. Several neighbours also claim to have spotted some snakes.
Al Shamsy has appealed to the Public Health Administration Department to take appropriate measures to tackle the problem.
Meanwhile, a veterinarian confirmed these types of desert snakes do exist in Al Maqam area and that they could be harmful. It is worth mentioning that 17 species of snakes are found in the UAE, including worm snake, thread snake, sand boa, cliff racer, rat snake, leaf-nosed snake, Clifford's snake, variable sand snake and saw-scaled viper.
Etihad to have new hand-baggage rules
DUBAI — APRIL 27: Etihad Airways will implement, with effect from May 1, its new hand-baggage policy which restricts passengers to carrying on board an aircraft liquids, aerosols or gel products in containers the capacity of which should not exceed 100 ml per product.
According to a statement released by Etihad, the decision was taken in anticipation of the "introduction of new hand-baggage regulations in the UAE, which will follow current policies in place in Europe and the United States".
A source at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has confirmed that the country will soon have a unified hand-baggage policy in accordance with the regulation implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and observed by various countries worldwide. Details of the policy, however, will be disclosed to the public at a later time.
The national carrier's announcement came more than three weeks after Dubai-based Emirates airline began implementing the same policy.
Under the new hand-baggage regulation and in compliance with the aviation safety standards of ICAO, containers should be placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag of a capacity not more than one litre. The plastic bag should also be presented separately for visual examination at the airport's screening point.
"Prior to the implementation date (May 1), Etihad is communicating directly with its customers to inform them about the new restrictions to avoid unnecessary delays and inconvenience at the airport," said Geert Boven, Etihad Airways Executive Vice-President, Sales and Services, in a statement.
Boven added that Etihad "will make every effort to ensure that our passengers are aware of what they can bring on as hand-baggage and what must go in the hold. This is especially important for passengers travelling with babies or young children or those who need to take medication and may be concerned about the impact of the new regulations".
The airline may permit certain medication, baby food and special dietary products in the hand-baggage. Likewise, as part of its awareness campaign, Etihad will post hand-baggage information on its official web site, www.etihadairways.com, in addition to reference guides located at its ticketing desks, airport check-in, and lounges.
Indian, 50, dies after fall from scaffolding
FUJAIRAH — APRIL 27: A 50-year-old Indian worker died after falling from a scaffolding in an under-construction villa in Al Rughailat area in Fujairah.
The incident happened as the worker, identified as Abdulsatar Abdo Khawas, slipped from the scaffolding while working. He died on the spot.
The son of the deceased, who also stays in the emirate, rushed to the scene after being informed of the incident.
The deceased will be buried here tomorrow. His son has approved the burial in the emirate.
Dubai - Bank boss jailed
Dubai - APR 27: A bank manager has been jailed for seven years and fined dhs10 million for plundering the accounts of his customers. The 43-year-old Arab national was convicted of stealing more than dhs100 million from 76 customers since 1992. One elderly customer lost dhs2.7 million.
The Court of First Instance heard that the manager was placed in charge of a special account for customers with more than dhs100,000 to invest. The manager, identified only as MS, then used his position of authority to conduct the scam against his own clients. The court heard that he repeatedly forged signatures, giving himself access to huge funds being kept at the bank.
After stealing the money he then transferred the cash to accounts set up in his wife and childrens’ names. On occasion he would use his Iranian office boy to collect the money for him. In court the office boy said in evidence: “In the months leading up to his arrest he was transferring large amounts of cash to another bank at least twice a week. It is believed that the accused transferred sums of more than one million dirhams to his account in individual transactions.
Banking authorities were alerted to the thefts in 2005 when a customer requested to withdraw some money from his account only to find he had no funds left. Further police investigations revealed that another 75 customers, all UAE nationals, had been victims of the manager’s thefts. As well as being jailed for seven years and fined dhs10 million, the manager was yesterday ordered to pay dhs21,000 in compensation.
A bank used by the manager to transfer the stolen funds was also fined dhs30,000 for assisting the crime and ordered to pay dhs205,000 in compensation along with the bank manager.