(MENAFN - Arab News) Schools across the kingdom have taken on several initiatives to enhance english proficiency among their students in a bid to keep up with the demands of the modern era.
seven saudi high schools recently tested 900 students for proficiency in the english language using aptis a new assessment introduced by the british council.
an additional 8000 students will sit the aptis test in riyadh jeddah and dammam as part of a multi-phased project.
brian young deputy regional manager of professional exams at the british council said that aptis was launched in saudi arabia as a way of establishing a benchmark for language standards among students and employees and to identify language training needs.
'aptis is also the ideal exam for companies wanting to filter potential candidates for recruitment" he said.
aptis is a flexible test tailored to meet the needs of organizations or institutions and can be administered through the organization itself.
'results can be released within 24 hours" he said. 'the test can also be taken online and can be customized in terms of content. examinees have the choice of sitting the entire test or only specific sections."
young explained that aptis can be co-branded as an organization's home test.
research previously commissioned by the british council shows that english language skills are vital for economic development in the middle east and north africa (mena) region.
english speakers in the region earn up to three times as much as non-english speakers he said.
philip rylah mena examinations director at the british council said that most young people in the region have a clear understanding of the importance of english and its role in helping them to gain employment with multinational companies either within their country or abroad.
'employment in international economic hubs such as the united arab emirates is a typical target" he said.
in fact research carried out in eight countries through euromonitor international a business intelligence company shows that english fluency can have a major impact on income in the mena region.
the salary gap between similarly skilled individuals who speak english and those who do not ranges from five percent in tunisia to a staggering 75 percent in egypt and as much as 200 percent for workers in iraq's capital baghdad.
'this is the arab world and arabic is the key language of the region" he said. 'however in an increasingly globalized economy many organizations need strong english skills to be able to interact effectively with the outside world and to deliver high levels of customer service to the english-speaking audience within the country."
'our organization can help companies rake in international deals enhancing both regional income and employment" he said.