An upper Manhattan public elementary school will be the first in the city to require that students study Arabic, officials said yesterday.
Beginning next semester, all 200 second- through fifth-graders at PS 368 in Hamilton Heights will be taught the language twice a week for 45 minutes—putting it on equal footing with science and music courses.
One reason Principal Nicky Kram Rosen selected Arabic—as opposed to more common offerings, such as Spanish or French—is because it will help the school obtain a prestigious International Baccalaureate standing.
“She proposed this to the parent association. They were very supportive,” said Angela Jackson, CEO of the Global Language Project, which is backing the initiative.
“Arabic has been identified as a critical-need language,” she said, citing students’ future “career trajectories.”
The Arabic requirement becomes mandatory in September. But PS 368 is a so-called “choice” school and no kids, even those living nearby, are forced to attend it. If the school ever enrolls a student who objects to learning Arabic, administrators will deal with that on a case-by-case basis, Jackson said.
Mohamed Mamdouh, who teaches the pilot program, said, “Soon, Arabic will be a global language like French and Spanish. These kids are like sponges. It’s amazing to see their progress.”