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Tue 3 Nov 2009 06:29 AM

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35% say Arabic, Islamic studies key for UAE schools

Arabian Business poll shows mixed reaction to KHDA's decision to downgrade schools.

More than a third of people believe Arabic and Islamic studies is a key part of the UAE's school curriculum and should be taught in all schools, the results of an Arabian Business online poll reveals.

Thirty-five percent of respondents stressed the importance of the subjects and said they believed the UAE's education authority was right to downgrade any schools not putting enough focus on them.

A further 16 percent of people who took part in our poll said Arabic and Islamic studies should be taught but schools should not be ranked on it.

Arabian Business ran the survey online after it was revealed last week that some leading private schools in Dubai have lost their ‘outstanding’ rankings because they are not putting enough focus into the teaching of Arabic and Islamic studies.

Dubai’s school authority, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), had downgraded three UK schools while a fourth was currently being inspected, according to media reports.

The report named the schools as two branches of Jumeirah English Speaking School, Jumeirah College and Kings Dubai, but did not specify which school was still being vetted.

KHDA officials defended the move saying a high number of Emiratis and Arab expatriates attended private schools, so it was important to teach Arabic.

But our poll also showed considerable opposition to the KHDA's stance with 42 percent of respondents saying private schools should be able to teach what they like and how they like.

A further seven percent said they believed Arabic and Islamic studies should not be part of the curriculum at all.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

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Jan 10 years ago

This would be consistent with the population demographics, ie around 35% of the population are native Arabic speakers. This does begg the question about adding a second official language as is the case in countries like Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, India etc where there are large groups of the population who speak different languages.

Joe Bloggs 10 years ago

Although 1/3 of respondants think that it is important, what this actually means is that minus the 'spin', that 2/3 of people don't think it is important. Religion is a personal thing and must not be forced upon anyone, everyone has the freedom to their own faith. If Islamic studies is introduced, then also the faith of the majority must also eb introduced, meaning that schools such as JESS, DESS and JPS must introduce Christian studies. Also, Arabic is important for kids to learn, as the home language is complusary in every other world country. I think though that it should not take the place of any other subject and must be treated as a minor subject, especially in the Western schools.

Mounir 10 years ago

Jan: Second "official" language would apply to citizens who speak a second language. the UAE's citizens are first and foremost ARABS, not english or french or chinese. Therefore arabic will stay the only legal and official language in the UAE. Its time people make an effort to learn the language of the country they're living in. Joe Bloggs: 35% + 16% = 51% 51% of the people polled by Arabian Business agree that Arabic and Islamic studies are important. quit spinning things to suit ur ideas. ps: the majority of the people in the UAE are not christians. In fact, the majority of the population in the UAE is actually MUSLIM.

Menoma 10 years ago

Munir, Why on earth are you so angry. YOu need counseling! You're like a little kid who just can't be happy. And always is looking for an excuse to rant on about something. Why don't don't you relax a little? So much anger can't be good for you.

Dan 10 years ago

I agree that people should try to learn some Arabic while living and working in UAE. But when you are given 30 days to find another job or get out, it’s difficult to make a serious effort. Another problem is all the transitioning work force which stays for short periods. Third, you don’t meet that many Arabic speaking people at work. Even when shopping at the malls or for the groceries most people working in these places are not Arabic speaking. So its very difficult to practice what you learn. .

Quicksmile 10 years ago

I continue to marvel at how foreigners can have the audacity to want to tell the governments of the GCC as to how they want things done. You guys need to get it... all expats (including myself) are GUESTS here in the GCC. We come here primarily for our own personal benefits, we work hard, and hopefully earn a fair reward. Why cant you guys accept that it is the prerogative of the locals to decide how the countries will be run, what language will be the national language, and what will be tought in the schools of the country? Really, if you don't like, go back to the country you hold a passport for. Try to act like guests in your host country, and trust me, you will be treated like guests. The one thing the arabs are globally reknowned for is their hospitality.

Mounir 10 years ago

Menoma: Angry? How on earth do you figure im angry? you took the time to study my posting habits and structure of posts and then you tell me that Im the one that needs counselling? This is a personal attack and really should've never been allowed. ah well. Dan: Some people have lived here for over 25 years and still cant speak a word of Arabic; explain to me where the '30 days' thing comes into play. Yes, its very difficult to practice what you learn, which is why i support a more prudent growth plan that sees Arabic installed as the ONLY language, with english as a supporting one and not as strong as it is now. Its gottent o a point where so many shops in the UAE have english names written using arabic letters.

Ali 10 years ago

Quicksmile; I agree expatriates dont have right to dictate what language should be official. however, GUESTS mean the person in question is being fed for free. Or he is staying on benefits. Almost all expats here are working, and that means using their skills and getting money in return. Its a 2 way relationship, so dont make it sound like expats are getting things for free. Also, they have the right to speak about things in which they have a stake, I have heard this pathetic argument before; if someone doesnt pay you, then dont complain as you are just a guest...

Fattah Adewale 10 years ago

That is a common adage. It does not worth living in Arabic country and you cannot speak simple Arabic. It is also a slap on Arab governments who are encouraging foregn language in place of their native language and i think it should be discourage. If you notice, most of Arab culture are gradually being eroded and replace with western culture. Though in the recent, I have been seen one or two job vacancies asking for arabic speaking candidates which i believe is a good move and will compel a prospective candidates to learn arabic before coming to the Gulf.

ANT 10 years ago

You do not invite a guest into your home and then have him wash the dishes, fix the computer, wash the floors, and do your taxes! We are not 'guests' here, we are residents of the GCC who contribute to the various economies. Without doubt, GCC countries need expats to develop, who is going to build all these wonderful projects otherwise? To stay on topic though; I think teaching Arabic in schools in the UAE is an excellent idea, however I would not want my child attending Islamic classes as I believe religion should be taught at home.