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Advancing Arabic Language Teaching and Learning: A Path to Reducing Learning Poverty in the Middle East and North Africa
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Washington, D.C. | 2021 | 63 p.
Laura Gregory; Hanada Taha Thomure; Amira Kazem; Anna Boni; Mahmoud Abduh A. Elsayed; Nadia Taibah
Corporate author: 
World Bank
Arab States
© The World Bank, 2021

The purpose of the present report is to identify and explore the evidence on factors that are leading to high rates of learning poverty in MENA countries. In addition, the report proposes a path for countries of the region to make the teaching and learning of the Arabic language—which are critical foundations for children in Arabic-speaking countries—more effective. The intended audience of the report is education stakeholders in the MENA region, including officials in ministries of education across the region, those responsible for education decision-making, teachers, academics, education administrators, parents, and nongovernmental organizations, as well as World Bank and partner organization staff tasked with supporting countries in their efforts to raise learning and human capital.

The intention of the report is not to provide an Arabic literacy strategy for each country since countries of the region differ and each would need to have their own national dialogue. Instead, the report collates the relevant literature from the region and beyond, as well as local and regional initiatives, and offers guidance to countries to advance the teaching and learning of MSA. As such, the report does not focus on the broader issues of language use within each country. As part of the process of developing the report, a summary of the emerging evidence and recommendations was shared with a small group of teachers from two countries across the region in advance of a focus group discussion to explore local views. Unanimous agreement on the key findings and recommendations were expressed by these teachers. Further discussions on the topics raised in this report are expected to take place during the dissemination of this report and in the months and years to come, leading to greater consensus across stakeholders on the best ways to advance Arabic language teaching and learning.

The report is structured in a way that first explores the incidence of learning poverty in the MENA region, followed by international evidence on the science of learning to read, and factors that are influencing Arabic language learning outcomes. The report then looks at some of the national strategies, policies, and initiatives already in place for Arabic language education, and proposes a path for advancing Arabic language teaching and learning, along with suggestions for regional collaboration efforts that could further support MENA countries.


Resource Type: 
Case studies and research papers
Multilingual / Bilingual / Mother tongue
Level of education: 
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)
Primary education


Learning poverty; Mother togue; Language learning; Arabic language education