Story and photos by Amr Soltan
Over two hundred students go to the Arabic school in the Firvale Centre on Earl Marshall Road. I met Mr Musaid Al-Hakam the manager of the school. He said the school was established thirty years ago in a different place in Sheffield. The school moved to the Firvale Centre fifteen years ago, with the help of Sheffield council and the manager of the Yemeni community, Mr Abdul Jalal.
The school is funded by the Yemeni community and monthly payments from the students families. At the moment about two hundred and thirty students study at the school. Most of them are from Arab countries, with some from Pakistan and a few from the UK. The students are aged from five to sixteen years old.
Besides teaching Arabic the school has other activities like music and theatre. Mr Al-Hakam said: “There are many benefits from learning Arabic. One, it‘s an important language. Two, Arabic helps the students to learn the Q’ran and its principles of tolerant Islam. We also teach history and geography. Three, studying Arabic helps to preserve the identity of the Arab students and makes it easier to connect with their families in their homeland, plus it makes them ready to use Arabic easily if they need it in their future work.
“Arabic and other languages are easy to learn if you have the desire and work hard.”
Imaan, a student, 12 years old, said:
“I started learning Arabic when I was six or seven years old. I really enjoy studying here because I get to learn my second language and many things about my religion that I didn’t know before.”
Another student, Muzen Khmer, 11, told me:
“I’m originally from Sudan, I’m happy because I understand what I am being told and have met new people. The staff are very nice, kind and friendly. This school is very organised.”
Shadya, 12, said:
“I study Arabic, history, geography and the Q’ran. I can say that Arabic is not difficult, it’s easy.”
Al Yasser, 6, said:
“I like Arabic but it is difficult for me but I am still happy here with the staff and the school.”
Amina, 5, said:
“I am originally from Pakistan, I’m happy here and Arabic is easy.”
This school welcomes any student from anywhere in Sheffield who wants to learn Arabic.