Perhaps I sound crazy, but I find Afshan Ahmed’s article in today’s The National, “Schools detail problems with Arabic instruction,” quite cheering.
And no, it’s not Schadenfreude, nor is it because I’m glad Egypt’s not alone in our sinking, holey, bad-Arabic-instruction boat.
It’s because talking about the issue of poor Arabic instruction—and detailing exactly what is not working, and how—is a big step in the right direction. And while Ahmed is writing here about Dubai, it could just as well apply to Cairo:
Pupils learning Arabic as a first language made good progress in developing their reading and listening skills in the lower grades, but lagged in writing and speaking, according to the 2010 annual report by the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau (DSIB).
Their abilities declined in high school, where comprehension skills were limited. Most pupils could not display creative and extended writing capabilities.
And Jameela al Muhairi, head of the Dubai School Inspections Bureau, had this cheering thing to say about Arabic instructors:
They have to be creative and learn from peers who teach other subjects.
That’s a long way from exactly how teachers can be more creative, and what money and time will be put toward these efforts (teacher-training workshops? a whole new library of materials?), but it is certainly a step in the right direction, a step we in Egypt have yet to take.