January 19, 2023
The Impact of the Iqra Textbook Intervention on Neural Responses to Print in First Grade Children
Children learning to read in Arabic often struggle to achieve fluent and automatic reading and lag behind the global average on reading measures. This is likely due to the complexities of the Arabic alphabet and the differences between spoken and written Arabic. It is possible that these complexities make it difficult for the brain to learn to recognize Arabic letters and words in an automatic way. For educational as well as cultural reasons, improving reading ability is a priority in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A textbook intervention, developed by the Al Qasimi Foundation and Dr. Helen Abadzi, that enhances the visual characteristics of letters in Arabic was successful in improving reading fluency in children, but the impact of this intervention on the brain’s development is unknown. The data suggest that a single year of intervention reduced the cognitive effort needed for the brain to process Arabic print, though it did not accelerate the brain’s development of a reading specific network. When interpreting these data, it is important to note the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the intervention’s success and thus, its impact on brain development.
Recommended citation: Centanni, T. (2022). The Impact of the Iqra Textbook Intervention on Neural Responses to Print in First Grade Children (Policy Paper No. 61). Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research