'Children need to start speaking Arabic outside schools'
Remaining three pics: Teachers and students from different schools across Dubai taking part in a Living Arabic event organised by the KHDA in Al Itthad Private School, Dubai
Dubai - "Fifty seven per cent of the Emirati population in Dubai is enrolled in private schools, making English a primary medium of education and that is a trend which needs to change," she said.
Given the multi-cultural environment, and the sheer number of nationalities living in the Emirate, English has become the easiest way to communicate in Dubai.
"Non-Arabic speakers don't find the need to communicate in Arabic ... the only way to change that trend is to educate students right from a young age," said Fatma Al Marri, CEO, Dubai Schools Agency, KHDA.
"Fifty seven per cent of the Emirati population in Dubai is enrolled in private schools, making English a primary medium of education and that is a trend which needs to change," she said.
"Making Arabic compulsory has also been a positive stop in that sense because students need to go through a tedious process to avoid learning the language in school," added Marri. Unless the child has a pre-existing medical condition, which can be verified by a doctor, students are not allowed to avoid studying Arabic.
However, Marri said that the standard of learning and the understanding of Arabic have drastically improved among students, especially since the first round of KHDA inspections in 2008.
"Children have begun debating and presenting classes in Arabic, which is a big step forward," she said. Making children speak Arabic outside the classroom is the only way that children will begin speaking the language.
Marri is one among the team members who has spearheaded the 'Living Arabic' movement in schools in Dubai.
Living Arabic is a platform where educators come together to share and develop innovative solutions for language teaching and learning, pushing towards one common.
The initiative came from our students who participated in KHDA's 'What Works Arabic' event. Living Arabic is organised by schools for schools.
"Teachers share best practices followed by them to teachers in other schools," she added.
Marri also stated that only teachers authorised to teach Arabic with a certified degree in teaching Arabic could pursue the career in Dubai.
"Teachers also undergo intensive training sessions with KHDA, giving them the expertise and encouragement to pursue the career," she added.