About 30 Grade 6 students performed an Arabic song at a celebration Tuesday marking the Edmonton Public School Board’s new partnership that improves learning about the Arab world.
The board signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Foundation International (QFI), which promotes the teaching and learning of Arabic and Arab culture.
QFI provides Edmonton public schools with classroom and teacher development resources, as well as opportunities for international cultural and educational exchanges as part of its mandate.
“Our district recognizes the value of partnering with local and international organizations … to allow students to learn things they may not be able to without these relationships,” said Michael Janz, chair of Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB), at the event held at the Queen Elizabeth School.
Currently, five schools in the district offer Arabic language classes and programming. Janz said other districts have turned to the EPSB for their expertise in the area.
While the QFI partnership was not created in response to the increase in Syrian newcomers to the city, Janz said, it will help.
“I think the reason why Edmonton Public is so well equipped to respond to the needs of immigrants, newcomers and refugees is the fact that we do have these language programs and they’re such a fantastic asset to our city — not just for heritage speakers, but also for Canadians who wish to broaden their global perspective,” he said.