PIRLS 2021 Sharjah Results

A Positive Sign for the Future of Education

The 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessment has revealed promising signs for the future of education in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. This international study, which focused on the reading literacy of fourth-grade students, has shown that learners in Sharjah overall have performed well. As reported by the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), “Private schools in the Emirate of Sharjah achieved 519 points and topped the results of the International Study of Progress in World Reading (PIRLS 2021), which measures reading performance worldwide, exceeding the global average set at 500 points. With private school achievements in Sharjah approaching those of nations like Germany and France, the UAE scored the highest out of all participating Arab nations”.

These encouraging results from PIRLS 2021 in Sharjah highlight the emirate’s positive education quality. The government of Sharjah has been investing significantly in the educational sector over the years, and this strategy is yielding fruitful outcomes.

The government of Sharjah has been investing significantly in the educational sector over the years, and this strategy is yielding fruitful outcomes.


The results from PIRLS 2021 in Sharjah are a bright beacon for the future development of education in the emirate. The government of Sharjah remains steadfast in its commitment to offering students a quality education, and the outcomes of the PIRLS 2021 corroborate that this commitment is bearing fruitful results. 

Sharjah has undertaken several initiatives to enhance Arabic readiness and promote a culture of reading, such as:

The Sharjah International Book Fair: Recognized as the largest book fair in the Middle East, the Sharjah Book Fair is an annual event held in November. It showcases a wide range of books from various genres and countries, providing an excellent platform for students to explore new literary works and engage with fellow readers.

The Sharjah Reading Challenge: As an annual reading competition, the Sharjah Reading Challenge encourages students in Sharjah to set reading goals and complete a specific number of books within a given timeframe. Participating students could win prizes like books, gift cards, and scholarships, motivating them to read more extensively.

The Sharjah Public Library: Sharjah boasts a network of public libraries spread across the city, collectively known as the Sharjah Public Library. These libraries offer comprehensive resources, including books, magazines, newspapers, computer facilities, and internet access. Students can benefit from the library’s wealth of materials to improve their Arabic reading skills.


These initiatives exemplify Sharjah’s commitment to enhancing Arabic readiness among its students. By fostering a vibrant reading culture and providing access to diverse literary resources, the Sharjah government aims to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive academically and beyond.

Additionally, the Sharjah Private Education Authority has made a significant impact in improving the quality of private education in Sharjah through establishing a comprehensive regulatory framework to evaluate schools’ performance, updating the curriculum in a way that aligns with international standards, supporting innovation in education including funding for research and development, resources and school training, and providing professional development training for teachers to improve their skills and knowledge to better meet their students’ needs

However, while the 2021 PIRLS results in Sharjah are positive, there is still room for improvement, Schools can do a variety of things to ensure the continuity of this high-quality education:

1.    Develop a Comprehensive Arabic Literacy Program: Collaborate with educators and curriculum coordinators to create a robust Arabic literacy program that aligns with national standards. Emphasize the improvement of reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and critical thinking skills. Incorporate a wide range of captivating reading materials, both classic and contemporary, to cater to diverse student interests. 

2.    Provide Professional Growth Opportunities: Organize regular professional development sessions for Arabic language teachers to enhance their instructional practices. Keep them updated with research-based strategies for teaching Arabic literacy, focusing on effective reading instruction techniques, assessment methods, and differentiated instruction for diverse learners. 

3.    Foster Collaborative Learning Communities: Encourage collaboration among Arabic language teachers by establishing professional learning communities. These communities provide platforms to share best practices, discuss challenges, and exchange ideas for improving Arabic literacy instruction. Facilitate regular meetings, workshops, and peer observations to foster a culture of continuous improvement. 

4.    Implement Evidence-Informed Instruction: Utilize PIRLS results and other assessment data to identify areas for improvement in Arabic literacy. Develop data-driven action plans targeting specific needs and track progress over time. Regularly analyze assessment data to inform instructional decisions and monitor student growth.

5.    Cultivate a Reading Culture: Foster a school-wide culture that promotes reading in Arabic. Organize reading campaigns, book fairs, and author visits to ignite student interest in Arabic literature. Collaborate with parents, the local community, and public libraries to establish partnerships that encourage reading engagement. 

6.    Support Arabic Language Enrichment Activities: Encourage extracurricular activities focused on Arabic language enrichment, such as poetry competitions, debate clubs, storytelling events, and writing workshops. These activities provide additional opportunities for students to engage with the Arabic language and enhance their language skills. 

7.    Provide Resources and Technology: Ensure schools have a diverse collection of Arabic books, both physical and digital, covering various topics and reading levels. Invest in technology resources, including educational apps, online libraries, and language learning platforms, to enhance Arabic literacy instruction and offer engaging learning experiences. 

8.    Promote Parental Involvement: Establish effective communication channels with parents to keep them informed about their child’s progress in Arabic literacy. Organize parent workshops and seminars on supporting Arabic literacy development at home. Encourage parents to create language-rich environments and engage in activities that foster Arabic language skills.

9.    Create a Supportive Learning Environment: Foster a positive and inclusive learning environment that celebrates the Arabic language and culture. Encourage student-led initiatives that showcase Arabic literacy achievements, such as literary clubs, reading circles, or language-focused events. Provide resources and support for struggling learners to ensure they receive targeted interventions and additional assistance. 

10. Monitor and Evaluate Progress: Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of Arabic literacy initiatives implemented in the school. Seek feedback from teachers, students, and parents to assess the impact of instructional strategies and make necessary adjustments. Use a continuous improvement cycle to refine Arabic literacy programs and ensure sustained progress.

Now as a parent, how can you support your child in reading more and finding joy in it?

1.    Nurture a Reading Culture: Parents can cultivate a reading culture at home by offering a diverse selection of Arabic books and materials. Establishing a home library or visiting local libraries exposes children to various authors, genres, and topics, fostering a genuine passion for reading in Arabic. 

2.    Read Aloud and Engage in Discussions: Parents should regularly engage in read-aloud sessions with their children in Arabic. This practice not only enhances language skills but also boosts comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking. Encourage discussions about the stories, characters, and themes to promote deeper understanding and analysis. 

3.    Allocate Daily Reading Time: Dedicate a specific time each day for your child to read independently in Arabic. Encourage them to choose books that interest them and monitor their progress. This habit aids in developing reading fluency, expanding vocabulary, and reinforcing comprehension skills.

4.    Lead by Example: Parents should serve as role models by reading books and other materials in Arabic themselves. Children are more likely to emulate their parents’ behavior, so witnessing their parents engage in reading will motivate them to do the same. 

5.    Support Arabic Language Activities: Encourage participation in activities that promote Arabic language and literacy, such as Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, writing competitions, or joining local Arabic language clubs. These activities provide additional opportunities for children to interact with the language, enhance their skills, and develop a sense of pride in their Arabic heritage.

6.    Monitor Progress and Offer Feedback: Regularly monitor your child’s progress in Arabic literacy and provide constructive feedback. Celebrate their achievements and offer encouragement while addressing any areas requiring improvement. This involvement demonstrates the importance of Arabic literacy and encourages continuous growth.

7.    Collaborate with Teachers: Maintain open communication with your child’s Arabic language teachers to stay informed about their progress and identify areas that require attention. Work with teachers to support your child’s Arabic literacy development and implement strategies that align with classroom instruction. 

8.    Utilize Technology Appropriately: Educational apps, online platforms, and interactive tools focusing on Arabic literacy. These resources offer engaging and interactive learning experiences, helping children reinforce their reading skills while incorporating technology meaningfully.

9.    Emphasize the Value of Arabic: Highlight the significance and beauty of the Arabic language, The language of the holy Quran, its rich literature, and cultural heritage, Instill a sense of pride and appreciation for Arabic, motivating children to explore and excel in their Arabic literacy skills.

10. Foster a Language-Rich Environment: Create an environment that encourages using Arabic in everyday conversations, such as discussing daily routines, asking questions, and sharing experiences. This immersive language environment helps children practice their Arabic skills and develop confidence in using the language.

In summary, the PIRLS 2021 results in Sharjah are an auspicious indicator for the future of education in the emirate. The government of Sharjah is devoted to providing its students with a high-quality education, and the PIRLS 2021 results validate this commitment. By working in unison, policymakers, parents, and teachers can ensure that all Sharjah students are afforded the opportunity to excel in reading.

Dr. Heba Nuseibah possesses extensive experience of over 15 years in the field of education, encompassing both distance learning and face-to-face instructional methods. Her expertise spans across higher education and K-12 environments. Currently serving as an Assistant Professor in the Postgraduate Diploma in Education program at the prestigious Sharjah Education Academy, Dr. Heba has also delivered graduate-level courses at Penn State University in the United States and at the Arab American University of Palestine. Notably, she has contributed to the students’ dissertation committees during her tenure at the latter institution.

In the initial phase of her career, Dr. Nuseibah served as a technology teacher at a school in Palestine. Her involvement with the school development team included curricular enhancement in the domains of mathematics, English, and science. She initiated a collaborative program with teachers and students from New Mexico State in the United States, focusing on remote programming coding education for grades 9, 10, and 11.

Moreover, Dr. Heba played a pivotal role as an instructor in the Model School Network project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This initiative aimed to equip educators with technological competencies and enhance their computer and technical skills.

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