Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Parents in the UAE have got online platforms to keep their children creatively engaged during the two-month long summer vacation. Madrasa e-learning platform has teamed up with children’s book publishers in the UAE and the region to develop engaging animated lessons to teach children Arabic. On the other hand, the UAE Ministry of Education and Cambridge University Press have formed a collaboration to boost children’s confidence and happiness while they stay at home.
Preschoolers and primary school students can enhance their Arabic language learning through animated stories launched on Madrasa e-learning platform. The videos live on the newly-established ‘Madrasa Stories’ platform aim to engage kindergarten children to students aged 12 in learning Arabic through creative animated characters and educational songs during the summer holidays.
The interactive high-tech digital content, which complements the latest accredited curricula, seeks to spark children’s imagination, promote self-learning and boost children’s Arabic reading, writing and conversational skills.
Since December 2019, Madrasa e-learning platform added Arabic language video lessons to its library of over 5,000 Arabised educational videos in math and science to students from kindergarten to grade 12.
In collaboration with children books’ publishing houses, the team behind Madrasa is currently working to produce engaging animated stories of Arabic language lessons targeting kindergarten and primary school students.
In the first phase, 50 statically animated stories have now gone live on https://stories.madrasa.org/ out of the total 200, scheduled for release by the end of this year. The overall Arabic language lessons to be posted on Madrasa will add up to 1,000 by the end of 2020, categorised into 200 statically animated stories and 800 educational videos targeted at students from kindergarten to grade 12.
Dr Waleed Al Ali, director at Madrasa, said the new stories coincide with the summer school holidays, enabling children to spend their free time reading and boosting their language skills while having fun.
“From the start, we were keen on presenting the Arabic curriculum in the form of engaging stories as part of our wider mission combine education with entertainment to enhance students’ learning experience. Storytelling is known to be a key method to deliver information and impactful stories that stay in children’s memory and help form their personalities at a young age,” he said.
He added, “Madrasa Stories highlights the importance of launching projects that make reading an integral part of their lifestyle. Reading is the first step towards nurturing enlightened generations capable of building a better future for their communities.”
Al Ali noted that Madrasa Stories turn the learning experience into a bonding family activity that helps parents spend quality time with their children.
As part of the collaboration between the UAE Ministry of Education and Cambridge University Press, stories from Cambridge’s research-based reading programmes will be brought to life by expert authors in six episodes hosted on the Ministry’s new UAE Story Time YouTube channel broadcast weekly from July 14. Each story will be enhanced with augmented reality technology to capture the imaginations of 4-11 year olds across the country.
Commenting on the ministry’s collaboration, Dr Hamad Al Yahyaei said, “We are constantly striving for innovative and creative ways to enhance education; our collaboration with Cambridge is the ideal opportunity to empower our young people within the country and across the world.”
Jane Mann, Managing Director, Education Reform, said, “Evidence shows that reading is an essential foundational skill – not only for developing language, but also for social and emotional well-being. With children currently out of school, we must not overlook the importance of time spent in a safe environment with enjoyable, engaging stories.
Books for every episode have been selected from Cambridge Reading Adventures, a popular series written for young learners of English, and the Bridge to Success project, a Cambridge course designed specially to help Emirati students reach CEFR B2 level in English by Grade 12. Including a wide variety of traditional and contemporary tales, these stories offer a chance for children to learn and connect while outside the school environment.
American University in the Emirates (AUE), a higher education institution known for providing unique and creative courses, launched the “AUE Presidential Design Talent Scholarship” with an objective to engage and encourage talented and creative design students in the fields of Interior Design, Fashion Design, Graphic Design and Animation Design.
For most parents, summer’s lengthy days and slower pace, lends itself well for children to be lost in the pleasure of imaginative books. In reality the kids tend to try and avoid summer reading, considering it to be ‘homework.’
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