Arab Reading Challenge

Where
United Arab Emirates
When
2016
Key objectives of the measure:
Reports and studies have shown significantly low reading levels in the Arab world. The average reading time for an Arab child is six minutes a year compared with 12,000 minutes in the West, according to the Arab Thought Foundation’s Arab Report for Cultural Development. The reading rate of an Arab individual is a quarter of a page a year compared with 11 books in the US and seven books in the UK, according to a study conducted by the Supreme Council of Culture in Egypt. Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on September 2015, launched the “Arab Reading Challenge”, the largest Arab project to encourage students in the Arab world to read, with more than a million students committing to read 50 million extracurricular books during every academic year.
Main feature of the measure:
The Arab Reading Challenge aims to encourage reading on a continuous basis through a comprehensive system of incentives and follow-up mechanisms throughout the academic year. A large number of monetary and motivational incentives are also offered to participating schools, students, their families, and supervisors from various parts of the Arab world, with the overall awards value estimated at US$3 million (around AED11 million). The challenge also includes several rounds of evaluation and qualification at the level of each school, educational zone, country, and finally the Arab world. His Highness also visited Dubai’s School of Research Science, set to become the headquarters for the challenge. To mark the launch of the 50 million book challenge, His Highness read the first pages to a group of students. The challenge will be the largest Arab initiative to encourage reading in various schools throughout the region. His Highness stated, "In the UAE, we have always realized the importance of reading and developing Arabic language skills. These have been included as indicators in the UAE national agenda for 2021." The Arab Reading Challenge has been launched in collaboration with the MBC group and the help of key national broadcasters and newspapers. The execution phase starts in September with coordination efforts between the various participating schools in the Arab world, after which the 50 million book reading challenge will be initiated, extending from early October until the end of March 2016. The challenge contains five stages, each of which entails the reading and summary of 10 books by participating students. This is followed by qualification stages at the level of schools, educational districts, Arab countries, and the final qualifications for winners on the Arab world level set to be held in Dubai at the end of May 2016.
Results expected through the implementation of the measure:
The challenge seeks to create a new generation with excellent reading skills and a thirst for knowledge. H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said, "The Arab world is suffering from a reading crisis whose consequences we see and feel every day in this region. The 50 million book challenge is the first of many steps we are taking in the hope of creating a long-term impact that would change this reality." He added, "Reading opens minds, magnifies hunger for knowledge, and instils the values of openness and moderation that define great civilizations." "The first book a child reads opens the first door in that child’s brighter future. The 50 million book challenge is the first of many steps. It will be followed by many initiatives. The goal is to create a new generation, a new hope and a new reality. Today we set this challenge for the Arab educational sector, Arab parents, and Arab children and youth. We have every faith in their abilities to achieve the goal."
Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:
The Arab Reading Challenge has a comprehensive system for incentives and monetary rewards: US$ 150,000 will be awarded to the winning student, of which US$100,000 will be in the form of a university scholarship and US$50,000 in the form of a cash reward to the student’s family for their encouragement. US$1 million will also be granted to the school with the highest level of participation in the Arab world. The Challenge grants rewards worth a total of US$300,000 to excellent teachers participating in the Challenge as supervisors, in addition to motivational incentives and prizes to participating schools and students exceeding a total value of US$1 million.
Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)
Publishing
Cultural Value Chain
Distribution
Participation