The classrooms and outdoor areas at Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Tariq Bin Ziad School vibrate with the voices of children playing traditional games and chanting folk melodies taken from Qatar’s heritage – all part of the goal of revitalising folklore and preserving national identity.
The school – part of QF’s Pre-University Education - offers the International Baccalaureate programme while promoting national, Arab, and Islamic identity.
Maha al-Romaihi, director of the school, explains: “Tariq Bin Ziad School is unique in the sense that it combines cultural values and local heritage with world-class education.
"One of the most important things we do in our school is to strengthen national identity through academic content and traditional games, to produce global citizens, but global citizens with a local spirit and a strong national identity."
Al-Romaihi observed the school has been working to promote and celebrate the Qatari dialect, as students at private schools, or in QF schools that follow an international curriculum, speak English instead of using Standard Arabic, and this mean students can move away from using the local Qatari dialect.
"The Qatari dialect has not disappeared, but it is not used enough,” she said, “so we seek to strengthen it. And we have found that we can do this by integrating it into the curricula and the school community in a thoughtful and systematic manner and using it as an entry point for teaching Arabic.
"Through the initiative we launched, the Qatari dialect is strengthened through old traditional games and chants, and national and traditional songs, and we are focusing on encouraging students to use the Qatari dialect during and outside classes, in breaks and after-school activities, to preserve it, cherish it, and teach it to future generations and cherish it.”
Al-Romaihi highlighted that during Arabic language classes, teachers link linguistic knowledge and words with their equivalents in the Qatari dialect. The school is also working on designing and preparing an illustrated dictionary of Qatari words that covers different fields.
Asmaa al-Beraidi, national curriculum co-ordinator at Tariq Bin Ziad School, said: "We believe that using traditional games is a way of enhancing national identity and preserving the Qatari dialect, in addition to preserving the continuity of traditional games and Qatari heritage."
She explained that when introducing to students traditional games such as Al Saba, Al Khabsa, Taq Taq Taqya, Hedo Al Meslsal, the schools aims to ensure they have a role in developing basic skills for students – specifically language, social, physical, and emotional skills.
Al-Beraidi pointed out that although the local Qatari dialect may differ in its vocabulary, it is supportive and complementary to the Arabic language, and the linguistic structure is the same. Consequently, when the student uses the Qatari dialect correctly, they will automatically become more skilled in using Standard Arabic.
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