A local newspaper has lauded Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announcement for the setting up of the Arab Reading Challenge (ARC), which is aimed at developing good reading habits among Arab children.
The initiative wants to get one million Arab children to read 50 million books. And as an incentive, the ARC will offer around Dh11 million in prizes.
"This is indeed a worthy and timely initiative. Let’s not forget that providing primary education to all is one of the key Millennium Development Goals. And developing good reading habits is an essential building block of any formal education," said Gulf News in its today's editorial.
The Dubai-based English language newspaper quoted statistics, which say that for every six minutes spent reading by an Arab child, a child of similar age in the West will have been reading for 200 hours. Or put another way, if an Arab child and one from the West sat down together, for every page of text read by the Arab, the westerner would have finished a hundred books. In a greater context, the paper explained that reading gap equates not just to fewer authors enjoyed, but to a loss of knowledge, inspiration and education. And that translates directly in terms of poorer prospects, less opportunity and social and economic inequality.
In a digital world, the paper says loss of reading skill is critical, asking that how, for example, can young minds develop the skills and critical thinking needed to progress and develop, innovate and, indeed, educate others? It is with this in mind that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the setting up of the Arab Reading Challenge (ARC). Simply put, the initiative wants to get one million Arab children to read 50 million books. And as an incentive, the ARC will offer around Dh11 million in prizes.
With reading comes critical thinking, the ability to see problems from all sides, the gift of being able to develop solutions, or to prevent problems in the first place. Groups like Da'esh have spread a twisted philosophy based on ignorance. "Would they have such a free hand to kill, torture and maim educated minds, capable of questioning and independent thought, the paper questioned?"
The paper in its concluded remarks said, "Yes, we live in a world that is rapidly changing, where reading is replaced by tweets and posts on social media, where the joy of a book is usurped by the latest app. That’s why the ARC is important, timely and critical."