Some 200,000 students returned to schools yesterday, marking the beginning of the new 2012-13 academic year in Qatar. The Independent, community, private and international schools reopened yesterday after the summer vacation in accordance with a decision of the Supreme Council of Education to unify the school calendar. The buildings of the Independent schools have been fully prepared to start the new school year backed with all the necessary logistic support, said a senior official at the Supreme Education Council (SEC). Nasser al-Malki, director of joint services department at SEC said that the engineering office at the department received all the new school buildings from the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), which included 10 schools and nine kindergartens. There are also four other schools that had undergone a complete maintenance process. Further, a tender would be issued soon for the comprehensive maintenance of 18 other Independent schools. Al-Malki pointed out that the department had finalised various tenders to maintain air conditioning systems, and safety and security systems. He also said that a strategic scheme had already been prepared regarding the required number of schools and kindergarten and the geographical distribution according to the density of population. The plan would be implemented at stages during the next five years in co-ordination with the competent entities. Meanwhile, the Education Institute at the Supreme Education Council (SEC) has issued a handbook for parents to introduce them to the innovations of the education process. The handbook included basic information to assist parents to better integrate in the process and help their children throughout their studies. The guide has a foreword by Sabah al-Haidoos, director of the Education Institute, where she explains the vision and targets of the book and gives a brief history of the recent developments in the education process at the local schools. She has stressed the importance of advancing dual languages, Arabic-English, practices in teaching science and mathematics. “Also, electronic resources beside the textbooks play an important role in enhancing the schooling process and making it interactive and enjoyable for students.” Printed textbooks, which follows high standards to ensure quality and compliance with local values, would be supplemented with e-forms in PDF format that would be available on-line at SEC website. The book urges parents to encourage their children to conduct further researches and studies using the available e-sources. It also presents a brief comprehensive course on the pre-university skills that students should acquire. Further, it gives various recommendations and advice for parents to instruct them on how to better assist their children in developing their learning skills. from gulf times.