Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Education has announced that an Arabic exam known as the DHAD Certificate, equivalent to Toefl, will be introduced among private and public educational institutions across the UAE by September.

The DHAD Certificate will be internationally accredited and will focus on the importance of Arabic language in the UAE.

Dr Mohammad Al Hannash, project manager for the DHAD Certificate and an Arabic language professor at the Canadian University in Dubai, said that the exam will test pupils and students on their oral and written Arabic skills, and highlight areas that need strengthening.

"The exam is meant to test the students' listening, writing and grammar skills. I have asked the minister to consider the exam because it is equally important as [Test of English as a Foreign Language] Toefl. We are an Arabic country and encouraging our youth to strengthen their Arabic language skills is vital," said Al Hannash.

Gulf News has learnt that it was concluded in a meeting between Education Minister Dr Hanif Hassan and Al Hannash that there will be an initial random testing in the beginning of September.

This will be taken among first year students in the Higher Colleges of Technology in Al Ain and in one unknown private school and one public school.

"The minister decided to go through a testing period so that we can check out the scores of various students. The passing grade will range between 400 to 600, depending on the students' age and academic year," said Al Hannash.

The minister decided to introduce four different DHAD Certificate exams. One will be taken by Arabic language teachers in both private and public schools, one for pupils in secondary schools, one for pupils in high school and another among freshman students in university.

"I approached the minister with the project because it will bring about an educational transition and development in the UAE's education field among teachers, employees, students and will help merge the expatriate community," said the professor.

In addition to DHAD exam, the minister and the National Curriculum Committee discussed plans to develop Islamic studies and strengthen the countries national identity. At a meeting, it was decided to develop a curriculum for both Islamic studies and the Arabic language.

The meeting was attended by Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Fowzia Badri, Executive Director for Educational Affairs, and Khulood Saqr Al Qasimi, Director of Curriculum Department in the Ministry of Education.

University accreditation

In their efforts to encourage Emirati students to develop their critical thinking, independence, global awareness and ability to deal with the world, Zayed University (ZU) has been granted an international accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCoHE).

MSCoHE is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources since 1919. They do so by examining each institution as a whole, rather than specific programmes.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and President of Zayed University, announced at a meeting yesterday, that the accreditation is a result of more than five years of hard, intensive work and cooperation with MSCoHE.

"The commission studied, reviewed and assessed the institutional and administrative efficiency of ZU, the suitability of the curriculum in both baccalaureate and masters programmes, faculty and staff quality, consistent standards for student admissions, and appropriate orientation and placement systems," said the minister.

Dr Sulaiman Al Jasem, ZU Vice-President, considers the accreditation an important step in assessing ZU's academic and administrative performance and maintaining an international level of teaching, research and community service.