The Arab population of Israel suffers from underrepresentation in the country’s
higher education system and the government will take efforts to remedy this
situation, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said Monday.
comments came during a hearing held by the Parliamentary Committee on Absorbing
Arabs into Public Service, where figures were presented that revealed a
disproportionately low percentage of Arabs in Israel’s academic
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Head of the committee, MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) presented
a number of findings, including that out of 10,500 higher education faculty
members in Israel, only 280, or 2.7 percent are Arabs, a number far lower than
their percentage in the general population, which stands at around
The figures also showed that there is only one Arab employee out of
85 workers in the Council for Higher Education.
“The numbers show us a
sad picture,” Tibi said during the meeting. “We must affect an immediate change
in this embarrassing representation.”
Sa’ar told the committee that “an
increase in the accessibility of higher education for the Arab sector is a goal
of the Education Ministry. The Arab population suffers from under-representation
in the higher education systems but I have no doubt that increasing the
accessibility [of higher education] will increase the percentage of Arab
students and faculty members,” he said.
“I am optimistic and convinced
that the coming years will see a marked improvement in this. The Education
Ministry will compile a work plan in cooperation with the country’s academic
institutions to improve the representation of the Arab sector [in higher
During the meeting, head of the Higher Education Council
Moshe Vigdor said the percentage of Arab citizens of Israel who have completed a
first degree has risen over the past decade from 6.7% to 10%, and the percentage
that have finished a graduate degree has risen from 3.3% to 6.6%.
order to continue this upward curve, Vigdor said the council “will build
counseling centers in the villages and local councils and we will reach
potential students at the high schools and show them the opportunities that are
available to them.”
Vigdor added that the council will invest “tens of
millions of shekels in order to prevent Arab students from dropping out during
their bachelor degree studies and to provide them transportation [to and from
During closing remarks, Tibi called on the Higher Education
Council to hire at least three more Arab employees by the end of 2012 and to
ensure that Arabs make up 6% of the university administrators by the end of
He also called on the state to launch efforts to increase the
percentage of Arabs among university faculty to 8% in the coming
“Higher education is a way to acquire knowledge, culture, thinking
and values, but Arabs have been relatively excluded from contributing to the
higher education system.”
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