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Conference to Send Strong Message on Literacy
2012-04-18

The upcoming First Annual Qatar Literacy Conference will address the challenges and opportunities in literacy development in Qatar and engage stakeholders on the message that literacy is a shared responsibility.
 
The forum is organized by the College of Education (CED), in cooperation with the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the International Reading Association, and Bloomsbury Publishing Qatar.
 
Details of the conference scheduled for April 21 were discussed at a press briefing on Monday conducted by CED Dean Dr Hissa Sadiq.  Also present were CED Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instructions and conference coordinator Dr Maha Cherif; Professor in Education at Appalachian State University USA Dr Gary Moorman; QU visiting professor Dr Nancy Allen, and International Reading Association Director of Global Affairs Unit Mr Sakil Malik.
 
Some 200 international delegates are expected to attend the event – from Egypt, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, UK and USA, as well as numerous Qatari organizations such as Qatar Foundation,  Qatar Children’s Museum, the Supreme Education Council and the Childhood Cultural Center.
 
The purpose of the conference is to bring together a broad range of individuals, groups and organizations interested in literacy in Qatar to share expertise, discuss challenges and opportunities, and explore ways to enhance literacy in Qatar, Dr Sadiq said, adding “Many organizations have contributions to make towards literacy and working together we can achieve more”.
 
She stated further:  “We are pleased to be a partner in this very timely event that will add value to the ongoing efforts to place literacy at the forefront of the education reform initiatives in Qatar.  It will encourage a cohesive environment of dialogue and targeted action to raise literacy rates in Arabic and English and strengthen children’s education towards securing their personal well-being and future professional success”.
 
The program agenda will feature expert speakers and presentations on the latest research in literacy acquisition and instructional strategies. Keynote speakers will include Olivia O’Sullivan from Bloomsbury Publishers and Sakil Malik from International Reading Association.   Participants from non-profit organizations, government agencies, education institutions, and the Qatar community will share best practices and dialogue on establishing a network for ongoing collaboration on education initiatives and  supporting literacy instruction in Qatar.
 
“This forum will hear experiences from teachers in the K-12 environment, and people from  organizations who work with children such as child care facilities, family and cultural centers, museums, publishers, and others.  Their input is crucial to the conference proceedings and the recommendations that will emerge”, Dr Sadiq said.
 
Dr Cherif noted that the conference is part of a research project funded by the MEPI at the College’s National Center for Educator Development (NCED) that seeks to empower teachers in Qatar independent schools with best practices in literacy instruction towards improving  literacy skills in Arabic and English of children in Qatar. “It is an opportunity for the Center’s professional development specialists who are key participants in the research project, to showcase their participation and successful experiences in training independent school teachers and improving their literacy practices”.
   
Dr Allen said: “This project recognizes that it takes a partnership of parents, teachers and community members working together to create a culture of literacy”.
 
Dr Moorman said: “What we need to encourage is the ability for our children not just to read and write but to give them the tools to apply critical thinking to help solve problems”.
 
Mr Malik said: “It is time to create a culture of reading which we can pass down the generations. Of course, the role of teachers in schools is crucial but parents can also help by supporting their children’s reading at home”.  He added that more public libraries are needed that would provide activities that appeal to children and draw their interest.