The Economist_Travails of Teaching Arabic

The Travails of Teaching Arabs Their Own Language

God, says the Qur’an, chose Arabic for his revelation because it is easy to understand. But many of the world’s 470 million Arabic-speakers beg to differ. According to a report by the World Bank, almost 60 percent of ten-year-olds in Arabic-speaking countries (and Iran) struggle to read and understand a basic text. Despite decades of investment in education, the Middle East and north Africa still suffer from what the report calls “learning poverty.” “School systems don’t see the importance of engaging kids in reading—or don’t know how,” says Hanada Taha-Thomure, one of the authors. “It creates a gap between children and their language. Many can’t read or write an essay.” The root of the problem is bad teaching. Arabic lessons are dull and focus on fiddly grammar. Classrooms often have no printed material. Few schools have libraries. Teachers tend to lack “sufficient mastery of the language itself,” says the report. In universities across the region, Arabic departments, along with religious studies ones, attract students with the lowest grades. Arab education ministries are waking up to the problem. Egypt has developed a trove of online material to bypass the traditionalists. The UAE has begun fitting classrooms with “reading corners.”….  Complete Article  HERE

WP_Returning to Shuttered Schools

As Most Students Return to Classrooms, Schools in Some Countries Have Been Shuttered for 18 Months Straight

Students across much of the world are trading in Zoom widows for chalkboards, in a global moment of hope and apprehension. In some places, including parts of the United States, many school doors shut for a year and a half have swung open, even amid resurgent coronavirus outbreaks. In five countries—Bangladesh, Kuwait, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela—in-person schooling was paused nationally for 18 months. In the Philippines and Venezuela, there’s no end in sight. Many of the countries that have seen the longest pauses in classroom education were among those least equipped to transition to remote learning. Students are facing dire consequences, teachers say. For many teachers, the situation seems desperate, said Raymond Basilio, the secretary general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a large organization of education workers in the Philippines. Of the nation’s approximately 27 million students, only around 14 percent participated in online schooling last fall, according to a survey conducted in November 2020. Families with resources, Basilio said, are more likely to have the means and wherewithal to buy sufficient Internet access and enroll their children in online school. They can also hire tutors to help their children keep up with unsupervised lessons. “That story is not the story for students who are the children of farm workers, children of fisher folk or urban poor workers,” he said.  Complete Article  HERE