Public schools to have reading clubs to promote Arabic

Reading clubs at public schools launched to scout for students with talents and develop their skills

Dubai: Public schools in the UAE will now have special reading clubs that will work to enhance the skills of students in Arabic and develop their talents, the Minister of State for Public Education announced on Wednesday.


The launch of the reading clubs, in partnership with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), will be one of the main creative initiatives of this year’s ‘Bil Arabi’ (In Arabic) programme, which seeks to preserve the language and promote its use across social media channels.

With over one billion social media users interacting in the fourth edition (2016) of the MBRF programme and a large number of people joining the activities every year, officials said the figures reflect the stature of Arabic among the children who can speak the language.

On Wednesday, the MBRF announced the launch of a year-long events and activities for the fifth edition, including eight initiatives which will be targeting Arabs and non-Arabs in the UAE and abroad.

“Among the main initiatives we focused on this year is the ‘Bil Arabi’ club which is a very important step that will encourage students with a passion for poetry, writing, and reading in Arabic to develop their talents further and use their time to advance their skills,” said Jameela Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education.

Al Muhairi noted that though the Bil Arabi clubs will be launched in public schools, they will also attract students from private schools.

At an academic level, the UAE wants its students to test at a 90 per cent ability to read and understand Arabic, however this requires continued efforts, she added.

“We are placing huge emphasis on developing the reading skills of students in Arabic because the results from global competitions in the previous years showed that the students were weak. However, the results this year improved by 11 points, which we are proud of,” she said.

Al Muhairi pointed out the ministry’s efforts in developing the Arabic language curriculums so that students would have a rich vocabulary and be able to improve their reading, analysing and summarising skills of different Arabic texts.

Jamal Bin Huwaireb, managing director of MBRF, said Bil Arabi, which coincides with the International Day for Arabic Language marked on December 18, reflects the UAE’s commitment to the language.

“For the fifth edition, we are expanding the scope of our initiatives to include countries around the region and the world. We seek to engage all segments of society, as well as government and private sector institutions in the activities,” he said.

Initiatives

Some of the initiatives of this year include ‘I Tweet in Arabic’, which promotes the language on Twitter; the ‘Bil Arabi’ radio show broadcast on Al Oula Radio daily from 4pm to 5pm; and the ‘Arabian Knights’, which recruits social media influencers to become Arabic language advisers to their followers.

An additional list of events announced include ‘Arab litterateurs’, a daily radio show broadcast on Egypt Radio to introduce prominent Arab litterateurs, as well as online discussion forums, workshops for teaching Arabic to non-native speakers, and interactive activities through social media channels.

Furthermore, dedicated ‘Bil Arabi’ booths will be set up in 20 shopping centres across the UAE and abroad, where members of the community will be able to take part in the initiative’s activities.

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