Dubai: National qualifications will officially begin on Sunday to select the UAE’s Arab Reading Challenge winner among 452,000 participating students.
The fifth edition of the challenge attracted 21 million students from 51 countries. A specialised committee of 157 experts will remotely evaluate public and private school students who have read 50 books over the past year.
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Students will be shortlisted based on their critical thinking and analytical skills, comprehension of text, communication, clarity of thought and self-expression.
Besides declaring the national winner, the committee will also select the outstanding supervisor out of 1,435 educators and teachers who have guided the participating students in the challenge. It will also pick the UAE’s best school out of 1,430 participating schools.
The winners will represent the UAE in the semi-finals to be held in the next few months.
Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, said the challenge continues its mission despite the COVID-19 pandemic. “The keenness of the organising team to carry on this message in the Arab world combined with the willpower of youth to read despite difficult circumstances are achievements to celebrate on their own right,” she added.
The challenge, she said, has successfully adapted to the ongoing global health emergency to make participation easier for students and judging committees. Digital platforms have been formed for training, reading support and panel interviews. ARC paper passports have been replaced with an electronic version to be downloaded and printed, enabling students to write the summary of the book they read.
The competition gets fiercer as the challenge approaches the finals. Al Muhairi said every student who participated is a winner. “The effort to participate and compete for the major win reflects many positive attributes that show us that the challenge is firmly established and widely spread beyond a national level to the Arab world at large.”
Al Muhairi urged participating students to make reading a lifestyle, even beyond the challenge, and called on winners who reach the finals to work hard for their goals.
Muna Al Kindi, secretary-general of the Arab Reading Challenge, said the UAE’s advanced digital infrastructure has enabled hundreds of thousands of students in public and private schools across the country to participate remotely to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
“The rise in the number of participating schools, which reached to 1,430 schools in the UAE this year, highlights the significance of the challenge for students, parents and educational institutions despite the pandemic. The overwhelming participation indicates that the Challenge has become an annual milestone that avid readers look forward for,” Al Kindi added.
Last year’s edition saw Mezna Najeeb, a grade five student of Al Ebdaa Model School in Dubai, declared as the UAE winner of the Arab Reading Challenge, while Wedad Mohammed Al Shehhi won the ‘Outstanding Supervisor’ award and Al Rams Primary School in Ras Al Khaimah bagged the UAE’s Best School award.