Is Arabic turning into an endangered language in Dubai? Parents fight back
UAE parents are hitting back at Dubai's education system for pushing Arabic - the region’s traditional language - to the side, in favor of English language classes.
Since 2010 the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has invested millions of dirhams in English lessons they say will best prepare Dubai's youths for university and a career in an increasingly integrated world. However, this move has proved less than popular with Dubai residents who believe the focus on English has gone too far.
Over 50,000 parents said in a recent ADEC survey, rating the standard of education in Dubai, that the highly westernized emirate has neglected its Arabic roots. The message could hardly have been clearer with 82 per cent of those questioned saying they would prefer math and science to be taught in Arabic.
According to Dr Masood Badri, ADEC's head of research and planning, this is more than just a language problem. Parents feel that the English language focus means that the broader culture of the region is being neglected.
Now a more moderate bilingual model of education has been proposed which would allow Dubai to hold onto its Arab culture while also teaching students the necessary standard of English for higher education.
But it's not just attitudes to education that need adjusting: the resources currently available to schools in Dubai are predominantly English, posing a greater challenge to teachers who want to educate pupils in their mother tongue.
Dr Badri has promised that the council is tackling this problem with a long-term plan to produce more material in Arabic: "We hope that in the next five years we will have such a bank in place and, in the long run, we could provide students an option to chose whether they want to learn these subjects in Arabic or English," he said.
Many parents worry that if the council doesn't deliver on these promises the children of forward-thinking Dubai will lose their past heritage forever.
Do you think it's important for Dubai's schools to adopt a bilingual model of education? Is Dubai neglecting its culture? Leave us your comments below!