The Qatar Foundation has been funding U.S. K-12 public schools, seeking to ramp up their Arabic language and cultural curricula with an eye toward globalization.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ):
The Qatar Foundation gave $30.6 million over the past eight years to several dozen schools from New York to Oregon and supporting initiatives to create or encourage the growth of Arabic programs, including paying for teacher training, materials and salaries. The funding came through Qatar Foundation International, the foundation’s U.S. arm.
“We are going to definitely look at ways to expand in the future,” said Omran Hamad Al-Kuwari, executive director of the Qatar Foundation’s CEO office. “We’ve been quite surprised about the interest.”
Similarly, Maggie Mitchell Salem, QFI’s executive director, says the foundation “partners” with U.S. school districts “to advance Arabic language learning and the understanding of Arab culture to develop global competency and critical 21st century skills that young Americans need to compete globally.”
The WSJ report continues that – after Spanish – Arabic “is the language most spoken by students learning English as a second language at U.S. public schools, and the percentage of speakers is growing at a faster rate than other top languages, according to a review of data from the National Center for Education Statistics.”