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Preserving Arabic is national, moral duty: Mohammed

Filed on May 14, 2013

DUBAI - There is an urgent need to develop modern educational tools for Arabic language by leveraging advanced technologies and communication methods that suit the younger generations and their interests.

This was affirmed in a report compiled by the Committee for Modernising Arabic Teaching submitted to His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Monday.

On receiving the report entitled Arabic for Life, Shaikh Mohammed stressed that Arabic is the “language of the life we live, it reflects us in various situations, it is not an extinct part of history that does not fit the present”.

He affirmed that conservation of Arabic is a national, religious and moral imperative which is not confined to one country, but extends to all Arab and Islamic nations.

Shaikh Mohammed noted that Arabic is the language of the Holy Quran that was “sent specially to us by Allah” and “the preservation of Arabic is part of our responsibility to maintain our Islamic teachings and principles that delivered messages of love, peace and security for the world. Also, it is a bridge that connects us to our roots and our history as well as being a key way to express our vision for the future”.

The report highlights the challenges and potential in developing Arabic language education, and includes a wide array of recommendations to improve Arabic teaching methods in line with international best practices.

Dr Farouk El Baz, chairman of the committee, outlined the report in the presence of shaikhs, dignitaries, senior officials, and a group of intellectuals, researchers, experts, academics, students, and others. (The report is available on www.arabicforlife.ae.)

“The report presents a significant opportunity to make fundamental changes in teaching approaches by building on the crucial relevance of Arabic in the region, and on the increased awareness of the necessity to build knowledge in the local language.”

He said the committee chose Arabic for Life as the title of the report to declare that the most important functions of Arabic as a language of daily communication should be the platform “on which to build new curricula and design the most appropriate teaching materials that would transform the teaching of Arabic”.

The report provides an overview of the current state of Arabic teaching based on five main themes: curriculum development, culture of reading, teachers, the role of the media in supporting the teaching of Arabic, and teaching Arabic to non-native speakers. It also offers recommendations and solutions that can be implemented within a reasonable timeframe to achieve quick success in the modernisation of Arabic teaching as well as long-term strategic solutions.

“The report recommended establishing a programme to train teachers specialised in the teaching of Arabic for non-native speakers as well as the creation of a global translation centre,” Dr El Baz said. “It is also very critical to boost the culture of reading because of its decisive effect on teaching and learning standards, and its positive impact on students’ writing skills.”

According to the report, 42 per cent of the students in the Arab world read only once a week or less, and 64 per cent of those who read do so in standard Arabic. “Based on these findings, the report offers a strategy to nurture the culture of reading that involves the family, school and the wider community,” Dr El Baz said.

The committee recommended the active use of modern technology, especially social media, in classroom activities and team projects that encourage students to develop their reading habits. It also recommends the development of electronic libraries to reach increasing numbers of students with a variety of books.

The report also highlighted the importance of leveraging digital media to reach out to young people who spend substantial amount of time on social media platforms. It said education system must fully understand the new media landscape to develop the right approaches to reach students.

ahmedshaaban@khaleejtimes.com


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