Turkey’s Ministry of National Education announced that as of the 2016-17 academic year, Arabic courses will be offered to students in elementary school starting in second grade. It will be offered as an elective language course like German, French and English. According to a prepared curriculum, second and third graders will learn Arabic comprehension and speaking, fourth graders will learn introduction to Arabic scripture, and after fifth grade the emphasis will be on developing basic language skills.
The ministry's decision provides an already severely polarized Turkey with another cause for division. Those who support Arabic instruction say in addition to religious reasons, it is essential to learn the language for economic, touristic, political and commercial reasons.