Last night all the test results were given out as well as the transcript. Oh well, Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah) I passed the test (of course I won't tell the marks). So, we'll be heading for a semester break and the class will resume on 26.10 week. IFLA has come up with a new level i.e. level 4, which suppose to cover the other half of the level 3 syllabus but we are given the option either to continue to level 4 or go on to Communication Arabic (Bahasa Arab Komunikasi). Previously, there were supposed to be only 3 levels before going into Communication Arabic (CB). There was unrest among the students as there were only told last night about it. Oh well, personally I don't mind going through another level as I'm taking this class for the sake of knowledge and self improvement. But it is not fair for those who have been promised that they only have to go through 3 levels before going into CB. At the end, they are allowed to go straight to CB as long as they passed level 3. Ok, case closed.
Another point noted for the next semester is that, the course fees remain the same (which is suppose to be good) but the hours were reduced from 50 hours to 40 hours. This is also another issue for the students. Some were mentioning that Ad Diwani center are charging a lower rate i.e. RM450 instead of RM470 per semester. But we have to bear in mind that Ad Diwani have 10 levels as compared to IFLA which only have 7 levels (4 Basic Arabic and 3 Communication Arabic). If we take this into consideration, then IFLA total cost will be much cheaper. It does not mean that I support the new scheme regime. I'm hoping that the course fee will be reduced as the hours have reduced. It was cited that it was due to cost as there are low number of students. The question is, I dont see much of marketing being done on this courses. I only come to know about it through my brother. My classmate mentioned that he only found out about IFLA after 2 years of searching until one fine day, he stumbled upon IFLA's website.
I have few suggestions for IFLA in improving its marketing:-
i. Take in people / Appoint a consultant to look into the matter of business and marketing. People who are really qualified. Don't ask the PhDs and the lecturers to do it, because the are only academician.
ii. IFLA must have a business sense. You don't have to increase the fees to cover the cost (most of them are fixed), you have to increase the quantity. Increase the marketing effort, don't think that it is not important.
iii. Some marketing tips:-
- Update your website (always) - I've been to the website few times but to my disappointment, I don't see that it is being updated. People will think either IFLA not doing its job or the courses have been cancelled/closed.
- Flyers - IFLA main target markets are muslims whether working or retired or even students. Where does a muslim go? To the mosque. Give out flyers at the mosque after Friday prayers or just leave it at the door. I believe that there a lot of mosques around UIAM area. Political speech (which does not give any benefit to ummah) do it this way, so why IFLA cant? IFLA can seek cooperation with the AJK masjid. From my observation, majority of people in Gombak Setia are knows about the existence of this course. I've seen flyers from Al Diwan centre at some of the mosques. Put up banners along the road heading towards UIA as well, so that people will at least be aware of it.
- Newspapers - Last two weeks, a friend of mine saw an advertisement for the Tilawah Al-Quran at IFLA, but it never mentioned about Arabic Course. As a result, he was interested and enrolled for the class. So why wasn't the advertisement includes the Arabic Course as well? Is there any problem faced by IFLA? Internal problem? Communication breakdown? I won't know, you solve it.
- Word of mouth - This is another simple but yet can be quite effective method of marketing. The lecturers that involved in the program should spread out the words whenever they meet the general public outside. I've met a lecturer who involved directly in the course, but I never heard him mentioning about the program at all. Why?
iv. Syllabus and course structure - Don't change too often the course structure. Don't make it too difficult. You all learn psychology isn't it? You should know that you are dealing with busy people and aged people. They don't have much time, so try to make it as simple as possible (where possible) in the teaching method. After teaching the basics, you should go for simple communication first, then go for basic grammar then so on. Combined with other techniques of teaching as well, maybe like the one used by linguaphone or pimsleur.
I hope that IFLA will continue to improve and take note of the above. Some of the comments I've put in the course evaluation form and hope they will read it. I make dua' to Allah so that it will ease for IFLA to improve. I love Arabic language and wish to continue to learn it. I love UIAM as it carries the Islamic University title and I make dua' that the people there will continue to be in Allah's guidance and be successful insyaAllah.