Developing language literacy and communication skills is part of the Ministry of Education’s overall efforts to improve quality of education in the country. Following the comprehensive educational transformation in 2003, various activities including promotion of mother tongue as a medium of elementary education were carried out. Native languages are used as medium of instruction at elementary level and Arabic is a compulsory subject for all Eritrean school children in Grades 1-12. However, the teaching and learning of Arabic as a secondary language could not progress as desired for various reasons. Taking this set back into consideration, the Ministry of Education is conducting a workshop under the theme: “Language: Asset of Centuries, Medium of Communication”so as to map out the best plans and strategies for teaching and learning of Arabic language. The two-day workshop was opened today and would continue until tomorrow at the Asmara Palace Hotel. Shabait conducted an interview with the Minister of Education, Mr. Semere Russom regarding the workshop, excerpts follow:
What is the main objective of this workshop?
This workshop is aimed at conducting a situational assessment of Arabic language teaching and learning in Eritrean education system and identify the main problems that are hindering effective teaching and learning of the language in the school system. Moreover, we hope to outline relevant pedagogic approaches on second language teaching particularly on Arabic language and enhance awareness of the vitality of the language.
Could you give us a general picture of what the workshop will include?
About 11 study papers are expected to be presented by teachers, educational officers, policy makers and scholars. These papers will focus on historical background of the Arabic language in Eritrea, situational assessment of teaching-learning process of Arabic language in Eritrean schools, the experience of some countries that teach Arabic as a second language, challenges of teacher requirements and possible solutions, experiences of the Asmara Teacher’s Training Institute on Arabic program, the role of Arabic language in the daily life of Eritrean society, the role of mass media, the importance of the Arabic language as a means of communication in the region, and other related topics. Around 250 participants including interested scholars, teachers, educational officers and policy makers from 6 regions are expected to take part in the workshop.
Arabic language has so far been taught in elementary and junior levels. But the outcome wasn’t encouraging until now due to several reasons. In this workshop we are hoping to come up with workable plan and strategies to facilitate teaching and learning process of Arabic language. The ministry’s plan is to enable junior students to master Arabic language.
What is the importance of conducting this workshop and what can we expect from it?
As we know, medium of instruction in elementary schools is the mother tongue. The Ministry continuously conducts workshops to evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process of all languages. This workshop is also part and parcel of the assessment of the Ministry of Education.
This workshop is expected to create conducive ground to enhance awareness and motivate all concerned individuals and institutions to achieve the desired objective. We would devise means and strategies to enhance the teaching and learning of the language, which we hope will enable students to master the Arabic language and improve their competence.