Arabic should be taught to Scots children, campaigners say


ARABIC will be taught to schoolchildren under plans being considered by education bosses.

Muslim charity Dar Al-Falaah Community Education Association (DACEA) started lobbying MSPs for the inclusion of the language in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.

The group claims there is a high demand for the subject and it will help Scotland grow economically and culturally.



Campaigners said Arabic lessons would help children   in multi-lingual societies (pic: Masae)
Campaigners said Arabic lessons would help children in multi-lingual societies (pic: Masae)


In January this year it was revealed there were plans to teach primary pupils three languages in order to adapt to multi-lingual communities.

But the proposal has come under fire from parents and academics who claim it is unachievable.

Abdel Kadar, chairman of DACEA said they already teach Arabic to more than 100 four to 16-year-olds at weekend classes in Glasgow.

He said: “In England, Arabic is taught and they have GCSEs and A-Levels, but not here in Scotland.”

The attempt to have Arabic taught in Scottish schools comes amid a historic decline in the number of pupils taking modern languages in Higher exams.

In 2011 the Scottish Government committed to teaching primary pupils two foreign languages but choosing a language to teach lies with individual local authorities.

This is based on demands for the proposed language, availability of registered teachers, the cost of provision and if any exams are available.



Dan Tierney, a reader in language education at Strathclyde University, said: “It could be beneficial [to teach Arabic ] as part of a general language awareness programme, whereby children could become aware of the different languages that exist in our communities.

“It would be more difficult if we were to have it as a continuous language from primary one through to S4; getting that continuity would be quite difficult.”

He said teaching Arabic would fit in with the wider aims of the Curriculum for Excellence, but said:

“It would be difficult to achieve it across the board simply because we don’t have the teaching staff and it would take a lot to train the staff.”

Glasgow MSP Hanzala Malik added: “We engage with the modern Arab world, we traditionally have very close historic links with the Arab world and I think it is appropriate that our next generation is fully skilled to engage with people in their languages.

“It is a wonderful idea and I hope they are successful in achieving that.”

Earlier this year there were plans to teach children Polish as part of a £4m pilot to improve language learning – other languages included Gaelic, Urdu and Punjabi.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said the authority was considering introducing master classes in Arabic and other community languages.

She said: “Arabic is not currently taught in our schools as there are not appropriately qualified teachers in the subject, nor are there SQA examinations in Arabic.

“However… we are looking at developing master classes in community languages, of which Arabic is one of those under consideration.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is a matter for local authorities to decide what languages to teach.”