Students from a Turkish school drew praise for winning an international debate contest in the Qatari capital of Doha.
The debate team of İzmit Mehmet Akif Ersoy Girls’ Anatolian Imam-Hatip School secured the top spot in the competition of teams from 15 Arabic-speaking countries and 35 others where Arabic is not the native language.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, himself a former student of an imam-hatip school, made a videocall to the team to congratulate them.
Unlike other schools in Turkey, imam-hatip schools offer the most comprehensive curriculum focusing on Arabic studies.
Arabic has become popular in Turkey as a foreign language in recent years as Turkey rapidly transforms into a hub for investors from Arab countries. A massive flow of refugees in the wake of the Syrian war also helped create a boom in the demand for Arabic, especially among businesses with Arab clientele.
In 2011, the Ministry of National Education introduced Arabic language courses as an elective for fourth and eighth graders.