Israel to expand education curriculum in east Jerusalem

Israeli plan seeks to increasingly replace Palestinian syllabus.

May 29, 2017 16:39
2 minute read.

Students in a classroom [Illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The cabinet this week approved a plan submitted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin to encourage schools in east Jerusalem to teach an Israeli curriculum as opposed to the Palestinian school curriculum.

“The time has come that also in east Jerusalem [pupils] will learn the Israeli curriculum from first grade,” Bennett said.

“Jerusalem must be united in actions and not [just in] words,” he said. “The deeper the learning based on the Israeli curriculum, the more we will continue to strengthen the education system in east Jerusalem, because this is how we build a future.”

According to the Education Ministry, the five-year plan seeks to “improve the quality of education in east Jerusalem, with an emphasis on encouraging the study of the Israeli curriculum in schools.”

“The aim is to improve the quality of life and the environment of the residents of Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and to strengthen the integration of east Jerusalem residents into Israeli society and economy, thus strengthening the economic and social resilience of the entire capital,” the ministry said.

The education plans for east Jerusalem include a gradual increase in first-grade classes that will study the Israeli curriculum, with a focus on English and math. Only 7% of first-grade students in east Jerusalem currently study it, as the majority study the Palestinian curriculum. Fifteen classes will be added in the first year, 18 in the second, 21 in the third, 24 in the fourth and 27 classes in the fifth year.

Additionally, the plan aims to increase the number of high school classes studying the Israeli curriculum by 20 classes every year over the same period.

The ministry hopes to increase the number of students eligible for the matriculation certificate from 12% to 26% of 12th-grade students studying the Israeli curriculum, as well as to increase those earning a technological certificate from 11% to 33%.

The plan also calls to reduce the number of high-school dropouts among 9th to 12th graders from 28% to 25.5%.

Elkin praised the proposal as “significant” and “dramatic,” adding that it would “influence the future of youth in the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and their integration into Israeli society in the long term.”

“If today only 7% of [Arab] first graders study the Israeli curriculum, we’ve set goals that in five years 36% of [Arab] first graders will study the Israeli curriculum,” he said. “At the same time, the plan sets a two-fold increase in those eligible for matriculation [certificates] in the Israeli curriculum. I believe that sovereignty is equal to governability and responsibility, and this should be expressed in the field of education.”

To accomplish these goals, the cabinet approved the establishment of an interministerial committee to present a working plan within 30 days, which will focus on economic integration and include specific goals, central tasks and timetables for meeting the targets laid out in the five-year plan.

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