Improved Arabic Language and Poetry Programmes Called for by Sheikh Khalid

According to a recent article in The National online, Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed has called for more programmes in a bid to improve Arabic language skills and encourage storytelling through poetry.

He made his request to Abu Dhabi’s Executive Committee, of which he is chair, at the end of last month (August 2019).

The Sheikh hopes the improvements will encourage pupils to engage with their local heritage and develop new literary and language skills. He expressed the urgency of these measures, stating they were a ‘priority’ and directed members of the Committee to come up with new ways to engage students.

He said the aim of the enterprise was to ‘revive Emirati cultural traditions and to ensure young people were able to learn the skills’ while also promoting heritage aspects such as Nabati poetry.

Poetry has long been a fundamental part of the UAE’s cultural identity, serving as an effective tool for documenting, recording and retelling histories.

In the UAE, schools have been prompted to encourage use of the Arabic language and heritage through teaching programmes, and this is now a priority.

These incentives are linked to the formation of the Arabic Language Authority, set up in July by the Executive Council, with the express purpose of developing plans to advance the use of Arabic and publish scientific studies.

The authority also acts as a research centre to support Arabic speakers and boost Abu Dhabi’s cultural movement by supporting the translation of books to and from Arabic.

Minister for Education, Hussain Al Hammadi, has asked the public to give feedback and ideas for strengthening the teaching of Arabic across the Emirates.

He said “We look forward to the contribution of the community in this development, and we would like to know the public’s opinion on education levels in all schools without exceptions”.

Old fashioned teaching methods in the UAE have been blamed for the lack of interest in the Arabic language, with even native Arabic speakers choosing to speak a mixture of English and Arabic.

Fewer students have elected to study the subject, with even residents who grow up in the UAE can often only speak a few words upon leaving school, and teachers blame a lack of resources in the classroom on falling abilities.

The new incentives have been welcomed by many schools, with private schools across the Emirates announcing an Arabic digital teaching programme to help overcome some of these issues. A mobile app will be used as part of the programme in a bid to make it more accessible and revive interest in learning the Arabic language.

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