Al Futtaim Education Foundation (AFEF), part of Al-Futtaim Group, has announced its partnership with Jabal Amman Publishers to launch Project Aghsan. Project Aghsan is the first-of-its-kind extensive graded reading programme in Arabic aspiring to publish 3000 titles covering a range of fiction and non-fiction texts aimed at children aged 3-11+ by 2025.
The programme was conceived of to address and tackle a number of challenges posed by existing Arabic reading material; these challenges include, but are not limited to, material not matching the reading ability of children, content being more skewed to fiction, content that is not relatable to 21st century life, and the absence of a unified system for levelling children’s books.
Project Aghsan, over the next three years, will gradually work towards the goal of 3000 titles. Phase one targeting ages 3-6 and focusing on phonics-based words up to four letters should be available this summer; phase two which covers ages 6-8 and focuses on phonics-based words and sight words should be completed by April 2024; and phase three which targets ages 9-11 and focuses on all complex phonics structures not covered earlier is expected to be finalised by the end of 2025.
Since 2018, the Centre for Excellence in Arabic at Al Futtaim Education Foundation has undertaken extensive research into the area of Arabic phonics spearheading several initiatives including developing a progressive phonics-based table for Arabic sounds, a progressive list of morphological combinations that are subdivided based on the orthography of words, a comprehensive list of levelled lexical items produced on the basis of the phonics-based table and morphological combinations, a comprehensive word bank for each level and sub-level within the phonics-based table and a corpus analysis of children’s reading material in Arabic that yielded 2000 high frequency words.
Dr. Farah Sarraj, Chief Corporate Officer at Al-Futtaim School Management Company, shared her enthusiasm for the upcoming launch of a ground-breaking programme aimed at transforming Arabic literacy. “In collaboration with Jabal Amman Publishers, we are thrilled to introduce this unprecedented initiative, which addresses a significant gap in the market. With an initial offering of 500 titles, this program will revolutionise how children engage with literature and books in Arabic,” Dr. Sarraj explained.
She further emphasised the crucial role played by His Excellency Mr. Omar Al Futtaim, Chairman of the Al Futtaim Education Foundation, in bringing this vision to life. “The unwavering support and visionary leadership of Mr. Omar Al Futtaim, both morally and financially, have been instrumental in making this transformative programme a reality,” Dr. Sarraj added.
Mr Sinan Sweis, Founder and CEO of Jabal Amman Publishers, commented: “We are very pleased to partner with Al Futtaim Education Foundation on Project Aghsan – a programme that brings the love of Arabic language to children of the Arab world within a fun, exciting and relevant framework.” Mr Sweis stressed the importance of this partnership, which aims to create a generation of avid young readers through a graded reader programme that enriches their imagination and develops their intelligence. “We look forward to fruitful cooperation,” he added.
Project Aghsan was launched at an exclusive event hosted at the Al-Futtaim Group Innovation Hub attended by senior representatives from several notable educational organisations in the UAE. Mr Fadi Hammadeh, Group General Counsel of Al-Futtaim Group and Board Member of Al Futtaim Education Foundation, welcomed the distinguished attendees and stressed the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring that the Arabic language remain at the forefront of global languages.
Al Futtaim Education Foundation (AFEF) is an initiative the Al Futtaim family launched to support the UAE Government’s and Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s (KHDA) vision for creating a globally competitive knowledge economy while maximising their social contribution to the community.