The Ministry of Education yesterday introduced Arabic language as an optional subject for grades 1 – 12 in twelves schools.
At a inaugural ceremony held in Hiriyaa School yesterday, Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said the government will mainstream Arabic education in the Maldives, focusing particularly on Islamic education and the study of Quran.
Jameel said the introduction of Arabic language will bring a ‘special happiness’ to the people of Maldives, will strengthen the Islamic faith, and will introduce good behavior.
Stating that different ideologies have to be introduced into the education system in order to ensure the peace and stability of the country, Jameel pledged to introduce Islamic ethics as a subject in all schools within the year.
Reading and writing of Arabic script have traditionally been taught in the Maldives at a very young age, either at home or from private teachers. Most people, however, have little or no understanding of the meanings of Arabic language – an issue of concern often raised by local religious scholars.
The schools in Malé city which have introduced the new subject were Thajuddeen School, Muhyuddin School, Dharumavantha School, Aminiya School, and Hiriya School.
In Addu city, the new lessons have been introduced at Maradhoo School, Feydhoo School, Hulhudhoo School, and Shamsuddin School. In Baa Atoll, pupils at Thulhaadhoo School and Naifaru Madrasatul Iftitah will also have the option of taking Arabic lessons.
The ministry has said that the first twelve schools were chosen based on the fact that Arabic teachers were already present within the schools’ staff, and that the subject would be introduced in all schools within the year.
Speaking at the ceremony yesterday, Minister of Education Dr Aishath Shiham said that Arabic language is “very close to our hearts” and that learning the language is very important.
Jameel, Ahmed, Education State Ministers Sheikh Abdul Aziz Hussain, Sheikh Ali Zahir and Dr Abdulla Nazeer took model Arabic classes for Hiriya Schools students yesterday.
The introduction of Arabic language in all schools of the Maldives is part of the government’s stated education policies. The government has also pledged to prepare a scheme for the introduction ‘economically beneficial’ foreign languages within the first hundred days of the government and to choose two islands within this period for the establishment of Arabic medium schools.
With the exception of Arabic-medium Madhrasatul Arabiyyathul Islamiyya, the medium of instruction in all Schools of Maldives is English language – local Dhivehi language and Islamic studies are taught in Dhivehi.