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Foundation Partners Visit New Arabic Immersion Magnet School

Executive director Maggie Mitchell Salem said that HISD and the foundation have the same mission: to prepare students as global citizens.

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photo of the Qatar Foundation International
The Qatar Foundation International is a nonprofit that promotes learning the Arabic language and its diverse cultures in K-12 education. It’s partnering with HISD at its new Arabic dual language campus.
The Houston Independent School District reached out to some partners for help in launching its one-of-a-kind Arabic language school.

They paid a visit to the campus Wednesday for an official inauguration.

Those partners are with the Qatar Foundation International, a U.S.-based nonprofit that promotes the Arabic language and culture in K-12 education.

The foundation has contributed $85,000 to HISD to help train teachers and develop curriculum. It’s previously provided funding to HISD for Arabic programs at Lee High School and Bellaire High School.

Executive director Maggie Mitchell Salem said that HISD and the foundation have the same mission: to prepare students as global citizens.

“This isn’t just a nice thing to do. It’s a necessary thing to do,” she said. “To be internationally competitive, students have to understand how to work in different environments.”

She said that one way to do that is to learn a foreign language like Arabic.

Arabic is the fourth most popular language in the world and the second most common language in HISD, after English and Spanish.

It’s also a language that gets mired in politics.

That was on full display when a handful of protestors rallied at the new Arabic school on the first day of class. They believe that the school is spreading Islamic propaganda.

“This is because we do not have education, we do not know about the Arab world,” said Mahmoud Al-Batal, an Arabic professor at the University of Texas at Austin and member of the Qatar Foundation International’s advisory board. He said that it’s important to separate their mission as educators from politics.

“What we are trying to do as educators throughout the United States is to provide education to our students, to the learners, about this language and this culture in order to allow them to go beyond what the media, what the soundbites provide them,” Al-Batal said.

He said that way students can make their own decisions.

Correction: This article has been updated to show the Qatar Foundation International’s financial support to HISD.

 

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