The child shall not be denied
the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his
or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to
use his or her own language. (The Convention on the Rights of the
Child, art 30)
Our Lebanese-speaking children are
loosing every opportunity to literacy in their language at least during
their childhood up to seven years of age, which is the most important period
of mother tongue learning. They have the fate of people forced to learn
Standard Arabic or to be considered as illiterate in their own language.
They have no right to be educated in their own language. Their own language
is not respected as a language of value.
What is the reason for which they
are deprived from enjoying literature in their own language? It is simply
because every literature, instead of being written in their language, is
being written in Standard Arabic, compulsorily supposed to be their mother
Everyone knows that the language
used by our Lebanese children as mother tongue is not the same as the one
called Standard Arabic and taught at schools as if being their mother
tongue. Eminent scholars have written a lot of descriptions recognising this
unfair, ambiguous bilingual phenomenon known under the name of diglossia.
All of us recognise the difficulty of learning Arabic while considering it,
blindly, as “our” first language, while it is not. We know that colossally
many high educated people fail in using Standard Arabic correctly in their
writings and even worse in their speeches. This is just because no one has
Standard Arabic as mother tongue. This is the core of the problem.
In the Diaspora, unlike the
situation in the Middle East, our children are not immersed in the language
use of Standard Arabic. This complicates even more the problem of learning
this so called “modern standard” language. The Lebanese language, in which
our children are competent, is only used at home, and limited to the
domestic linguistic domain, which in its turn limits the base on which our
children are supposed to build their second language learning, this second
language being the majority language of their host land, and in the same
time their education language.
Our children’s monolingual
colleagues in the Diaspora are privileged with an abundant children
literature in their own mother tongue. This makes the concurrence extremely
hard and unfair when both reach school age and school tasks. In order to
enhance the literacy of our children, instead of forcing them learn a third
language which is Standard Arabic, the right and reasonable solution to this
problem should be to enrich their mother tongue, in giving them the
opportunity to listen to an affluent literature in their own Lebanese
language in their early childhood, equally to their colleagues.
That is the reason why we decided
to start the thousand-mile journey. We owe to give our children a better
future than that we inherited. Our children are living in the age of
communication where language is the most important means to success.
We have seen how many generations
just looked at this same problem without any remedy. We decided to give the
coming generations a possibility to free themselves from this linguistic
That is the reason why we decided
to start encouraging writing, publishing and teaching our children in their
own Lebanese language.
We are not pioneers in any way in
advocating for the use of Lebanese as literature language. What we planned
to do is to start the children literature project because we consider it the
first basement to any following step in edifying our cultural future.