A training summit in the UAE has concluded that schools need to focus more on Arabic language courses. Thus, they must return to basic grammatical tests if they want to support the hard working pupils.
Experts were concerned about the students coming out of school with poor spoken and written skills. This would result in a generation of young Arabs who cannot use their native Arabic language properly.
Helen Abadzi said, “Whether you like it or not, research shows that Arabic students are not performing well in their own native language. For many, their reading of Arabic is a little slower than reading English.” Helen Abadzi is a professor at the University of Texas in Arlington. She is also a specialist at the World Bank for 27 years.
There is an important need to improve academic students from Grade 1 onwards, and it was discussed in Ras Al Khaimah by experts and teachers at the Gulf Comparative Education Society Symposium. It was organized by Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research.
Abadzi explained: “Time has to be spent in the class to regularly practice reading and language understanding so that they become more fluent with the language. They should systematically learn Arabic grammatical patterns to understand texts instantly.”
UAE aim to get top rankings in education
Officials in the UAE focus to rank the country in the top twenty of the International Student Assessment Program (PISA). The aim is also to rank the UAE in the fifteen largest nations in TIMSS by 2021. TIMMS is Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.
A statement from the UAE government said that Arabic language education would be of greater importance in private schools. Thus, the teacher should undergo an upgraded education and a revised curriculum.
The decision is part of a series of measures to protect the Arabic language. To do this, more emirates will attend private schools.
The complexity of Arabic scripts affecting the education in Arabic
According to Ms. Abadzi, one of the reasons is the visual complexity of the Arabic manuscript and a limited grammar concept, that Arab countries score lower in international test scores than non-Arab countries.
A textbook was developed by the Al Qasimi Foundation. The textbook would increase the reading speed at large intervals, individual symbols and combinations.
Mrs. Abadzi said, “Arabic letters may take a few seconds to recognize as compared to scripts like English. Finding a pattern becomes more complicated in Arabic and this slows the reading speed of young students.
Incorrect reading overloads their memory and affects negative response. The need for constant practice. The higher the reading speed and accuracy at the beginning of the class, then critical thinking becomes possible when the students have time to connect different concepts.
The more gaps are in reading, the more gaps in understanding and understanding in recent years. And linguistic processing speed is required to understand large volumes of text “.
Figures of education in Arabic language
According to a UNESCO study, in the Gulf countries, students read simple sentences at the end of class 1. At the same time, they read internationally all rights. The study was conducted in 2017.
The gap still increases with students in the Gulf who can read 200-300 words after grade 4. In comparison, their counterparts read international texts in 800-1000 words.
In three months, two first grade sections received two additional classes of reading per week. The decision is part of a pilot program in a public school in RAK.
Lower-performing students managed to double the number of letters they could read. They went from 12 to 23 per minute and the number of words went up from 6.4 to 11.
Helen Abadzi explained: “The students we worked with, who knew at least little bit made the greatest improvements. Students need to process information without effort. The challenge is that Arabic students should also read 1000 passwords at the beginning of class 4”.
As an example, teachers in private schools already teach Arabic to students four times a week. Each lesson takes about 45 minutes.
Other issues affecting the Arabic education
Another important aspect is the quality of teaching and the exercise outside the classroom.
The need for integration was highlighted by Khalaf Marhoun Al Abri, the deputy professor of education policy at Oman Sultan Qaboos University.
He said, “Our students show intelligence when studying abroad, so they work well like other students, but when they are here, the whole context changes. Why? We need to bring improvements to the system.
We need collaboration and partnerships to overcome the problem. There is no support from families and parents. Sometimes we publish research results but there is no support from decision makers to produce the results.
So everyone must focus, it isn’t only the education sector and the schools, but the government, society, families and the students themselves”.
According to Kaltham Kenaid, regular tests of Arabic and Islamic teachers with surveys and interviews are very important. Kaltham Kenaid is research director at Dubai’s regulator, knowledge and human development authority.
KHDA has initiated research programs in the last two years where teachers establish goals. Thus, these will not be dictated by the school, the principal or the regulator.
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