ADEC launches 'Abu Dhabi Reads' campaign

The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) has launched its national campaign 'Abu Dhabi Reads', an initiative to help teachers encourage their students to read independently by the end of Cycle 1.

ADEC held a ceremony today to announce the launching of the campaign which aims to promote reading among school students and community members.

The campaign is organized by ADEC in collaboration with various government entities and community institutions with the official sponsor University Bookshop-Abu Dhabi.

Activities for "Abu Dhabi Reads" campaign will continue to run throughout the month of April and target Kindergarten and school students across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi; the campaign's projects are also integrated within the Cycle 1 curriculum.

Entities participating in the campaign include the Abu Dhabi Tourism '&' Culture Authority (TCA), Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, UAE Writers Union, General Authority of Islamic Affairs '&' Endowment, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Khalid Al Nahyan Association for Future Generations and the Abu Dhabi Media Company.

Speaking at the press conference, Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC said that the campaign comes in line with ADEC's goals to improve knowledge and skills among students in order to contribute to the UAE's socio-economic development.

"ADEC is playing a pioneering role by launching this campaign since it will help raise awareness on the importance of reading and on how taking up reading can help shape the character of an individual and the future of a nation, as well as encourage school students and community members to take up reading as a hobby. We encourage all community members to participate in our various reading activities since knowledge is the most valuable resource today, and can help contribute to major changes in the world," said Dr. Al Khaili.

ADEC's logo in Arabic "Iqraa" or read, added Dr. Al Khaili, was the first word of God to his messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which symbolizes the utmost importance of reading in a person's life.

His Excellency Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, Director General of the TCA, said that TCA Abu Dhabi supports "Abu Dhabi Reads" campaign by publishing some of the best stories written by student's s from the "Saard" Creative Writing competition in a book.

"The campaign is a pioneering event that encourages Kindergarten and Cycle 1 students to read in Arabic and English. This is an important goal as we believe that development cannot be achieved without knowledge. Reading is the cornerstone for comprehensive development in societies," said Mr. Al Muhairi.

The 23rd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair will be inaugurated this month, which will also help enrich the local cultural scene and cultural collaboration between the UAE and the whole world, he indicated.

"With a special section dedicated to children, the book fair is keen to promote reading among children as a source of exploration and learning. Every year, TCA Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with ADEC, distributes book vouchers to children and students in schools and universities. These cultural and educational initiatives add to other recently launched projects such as the Al Ain Reads Book Show and the Abu Dhabi Book Kit through which a number of translated works of world literature were distributed to Cycle 1 students in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region," he added.

The Abu Dhabi Reads campaign offers a wide variety of programs and activities in coordination with its partners, and is designed to enhance reading and writing skills among students through selecting reading resources and activities that enrich skills as well as help identify talented students.

The campaign supports ADEC's New School Model student-centered educational approach, which requires students to design their own support materials and become independent learners.

ADEC has also trained school teachers on how to use best practices in reading, select appropriate resources and keep records of reading assessments.

The "Saard" Creative Writing competition is held in collaboration with the UAE Writers Union to help spread a reading and writing culture among students and the community. The contest is meant to assist Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 students to become creative writers. A number of UAE prominent intellectuals and writers are participating in the contest's workshops.

Dr. Habib Al Sayegh, CEO of UAE Writers Union, said that working with ADEC helps achieve the goals of the union which aims to enhance cooperation between institutions in areas related to education and culture. "The UAE's Writers Union is keen to make creative reading and writing an integral part of our lives. Our efforts are exerted to support talented individuals and enhance the cultural aspects of society." The "Saard" Creative Writing competition is organized in partnership with the UAE Writers Union and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, who will publish short stories in the Abu Dhabi National Library for the winning students as part of the competition.

According to Abdulla Nasser Al Junaibi, Director of Community Services Division the event, "Stories in the Park" - is held in collaboration with the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City and includes audio and video story-telling, free drawing, sports and cultural contests.

The "Arabic Language Festival" is also organized in collaboration with Municipality of Abu Dhabi City. The event is held at the Abu Dhabi Corniche and includes calligraphy workshops, book fair and educational games.

Various events are scheduled in Al-Ain parks and schools in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Khaled Al Nahyan Future Generation Society.

Dr. Mona Abu Farousha Al Falasi, the Association's Secretary and Chairman of Environment and Community Health Committee, said that "the involvement of the association with the campaign was based on the directives of Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammad Bin Khalid Al Nahayan, as is one of the initiatives that - we believe - will make a difference in children's lives." She added: "Out of its keenness to encourage children to read, the association established the first children library in Al Ain in summer of 2005. In the library, every age group is provided with appropriate reading resources." "The vision of Sheikha Shamma bint Mohammad Bin Khalid Al Nahayan matches that of the Abu Dhabi Reads campaign. Children are of paramount importance as they represent the future of nations and thus should be equipped with knowledge. Academic study is not enough to achieve this goal. Reading should be part of our children's lives," stressed Al Falasi.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments plays a leading role in the campaign by delivering a number of awareness lectures targeting parents and those interested.

Taleb Al-Shahi, General Manager of the Department of Preaching at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said that the authority will dedicate Friday sermon (Khutba) in mosques to raise awareness on the importance of reading.

"In addition, more than 27 lectures will be given by specialized preachers across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region)," said Al-Shahi.

Eng. Abdulla Al Neaimi, MBA, ASIS, CEO and founder of SecureTech, who are Platinum sponsors for the event, said: "As a company that specializes in the provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Security Systems, we understand the value of reading.

By laying a strong foundation of oral reading in both Arabic and English languages, our children will grow in confidence as they participate in the knowledge economies of the future. By focusing on children in Cycle 1, this initiative by Abu Dhabi Educational Council will help to promote a reading culture among our youth through various activities planned throughout the country in the coming term. Developing reading abilities among the young is the starting point that leads towards securing a healthy and well-educated generation, and I am happy to be part of that initiative," Reading and writing activities will be carried out at Khalidiya Mall in Abu Dhabi, Bawadi Mall in Al Ain and City Mall in the Western Region in contribution with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, who will be providing environmental education books on the stand in malls in efforts to increases students' knowledge regarding the environment in a fun loving and inspirational way, some of which include seven books called the "Enviro-Spellathon" and seven books called "The Climate Change." Prior to launching the campaign, a number of workshops on "Saard" and "Stories in the Park" were held to inform students and school management on key activities within the campaign.