Zayed University's Zai Centre unveils an advanced diagnostic tool to assess Arabic language difficulties amongst children aged 6 to 11 years old

13 Apr 2023

The Zai Centre at Zayed University has today launched a new diagnostic tool designed to detect Arabic reading difficulties of young children. SARD, or the “Screening Arabic Reading Difficulties” tool, utilizes innovative technology to identify learning gaps and enables schools to make informed decisions on how to tailor their approach to teach individual students. The tool is specifically targeted at children from grade 1 to grade 6.

The launch of the tool marks an important milestone for the Zai Centre and for Zayed University. The drive to reinvigorate and introduce standardisation for the teaching of the Arabic language is a core objective for the Zai Centre, which is led by Dr Hanada Taha Thomure.

SARD is a cloud-based tool that can predict, based on speed and accuracy of processing and performance, a range of reading difficulties, in addition to identifying potential developmental disorders, and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and spelling disorders. SARD then produces easily digestible analytical reports and charts to present a student’s performance data on the reading skills assessments. This enables teachers to benchmark the student’s results against previous assessments taken and to also compare them against their peers who are in the same age group or grade level within their school, country and against global norms.

The Zai Centre is launching an initial targeted pilot scheme in Lebanon before launching a wider pilot across the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Zai’s leadership have already met with a number of leading education providers across the Emirates who have registered interest in participating in the pilot program. It is hoped that after a successful pilot the program will be rolled out to all schools who wish to utilise the tool.

Zayed University has recently launched a wide-ranging transformation program a key pillar of which is applied interdisciplinary research. The SARD tool, a flagship product from the Zai Centre, is directly aligned with this new strategic approach which focuses on the delivery of academic research with practical applications in line with national and international priorities.

Zai, since its launch in November 2022 under the leadership of Dr Hanada Taha Thomure, has been at the forefront of innovation in Arabic teaching and language. The Centre seeks to identify best practice while enabling teachers to inspire their students with a passion for the language. Zai’s mission is to develop education tools for Arabic teaching and to inspire research through innovative solutions based on knowledgeable research.

Dr Hanada spoke about the importance of Zai’s pioneering efforts to preserve the culture of the UAE, and how resources such as SARD can assist with this, saying, “Zai is not only about teaching the language itself, but preserving and celebrating the rich culture and history of the Arab world. As a country that deeply values its cultural heritage, the UAE understands the importance of promoting and preserving the Arabic language and its diverse traditions. It is our hope that the development of innovative resources, such as SARD, will revitalize Arabic teaching.

“SARD will not only strengthen the future of the Arabic language and enhance the learning experience for young people across the UAE, but it will also contribute to the UAE's national goal of preserving the country’s unique cultural identity for generations to come. The phenomenal interest in SARD we have seen expressed from those involved in Arabic education across the Middle East underscores the importance of our endeavors to develop new tools to improve the teaching and learning experience,” concluded Dr Hanada.

The Zai Centre has developed a website for schools to register their interest in joining SARD, as well as further information on the tool: