Think Creative Spring 2022

bringing curriculum to life

Moujtahid Abdilah transferred his twin boys, Ismail (left) and Yassine, to public school and was impressed by how much they have grown with the revised Arabic language curriculum.

Moujtahid Abdilah, 46, is the director of the Amphitrite Palace Resort situated between Casablanca and Rabat, Morocco. A career in tourismmanagement means he keeps an irreg ular schedule, but between the early mornings and late nights, he works to ensure his three young children are getting a good education. Originally, he sent his children to private school. However, Abdilah went to public school as a young boy in Casablanca and was curious if his children would thrive there. He transferred his first grade twins to public school last year and was amazed by the results. “I really noticed a big improvement in terms of teachers, follow-up, respect of security mea sures during COVID, and also involving parents in their kids’ learning process,” says Abdilah. Part of this success can be attributed to the newly revised Arabic language curriculum for grades one through six. USAID and the Moroccan Ministry of National Education collaborated on improving Arabic literacy skills through Reading for Success – National Program for Reading. Abdilah’s twin sons began school as the pro gram’s work was coming to fruition and are a testament to what can come from a successful curriculum that centers a love of reading. “This reading [program] improved their learn ing attainment, their eloquence, and even the vocabulary they use at home … It makes me feel honored and proud,” says Abdilah. Streamlining curriculum and engaging students When USAID and Creative delivered the final Arabic language curriculum to the Ministry in June of 2021, it was the culmination of seven years of intensive cooperation between the U.S. and Morocco. A response to the country’s longstanding strug gle with reading performance, the Reading for Success projects aimed to give teachers what they need to accelerate children’s acquisition of Arabic reading and writing. MohammedMekkaoui, Director of Saadiyine School in Skhirate, has worked in education since 1991 and felt shortcomings in the classroom.

This reading [program] improved their learning attainment, their eloquence, and even the vocabulary they use at home … It makes me feel honored and proud.” - Moujtahid Abdilah, Parent “

“We had noticed in recent years that there was an obvious weakness in reading for our children, and that is why officials began to look for a new way to improve the quality of Arabic language reading,” says Mekkaoui. He explains that before the curriculum was revised, instructors would start by teaching a complete sentence and then extract words and letters. “Now, the process is reversed. We start with a letter, move to the word and then to the sen tence,” he says. Reading for Success activities launched in 2015 with a pilot project that tested a phonics-based

approach to strengthen reading in first and second grade in four regions of Morocco. The Reading for Success program then expanded the pilot to third and fourth grades, before scaling up the revised curriculum nationwide for grades one through four in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. “The phonics approach helps learners recog nize letters and symbols that represent sounds, which helps in word recognition, in other terms reading fluency,” says Linda Wafi, the program’s Project Director. “It equips young learners with tools to break down words and build new ones, which eventually supports

The revised curriculum puts an emphasis on engaging classroom time to help students improve their reading, writing, listening, speaking and comprehension.

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