We need education

Should the state and the city’s education administration impose the Israeli curriculum on schools in the Arab sector?

August 14, 2019 21:18
4 minute read.
We need education

A VIEW of Ein Kerem: the Russian Orthodox Church.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

We need education
Should the state and the city’s education administration impose the Israeli curriculum on schools in the Arab sector? This is not a new issue but it has been raised again, this time by Jerusalem and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who wants a significant change in budgets for the east side. Schools in the Arab sector have three different levels of ties with the Israeli system: totally part of the public schools; partially recognized; and totally private, usually under a religious stream, whether Muslim or Christian.
Public schools are wholly funded by the city; the partially recognized obtain 70% of their budgets from the city; and the private are not budgeted at all (as in haredi, ultra-Orthodox schools.) In recent years, many more students and parents committees have requested Hebrew lessons in their schools’ programs, but so far the majority are still using the Palestinian matriculation test.
Former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has already tried to promote the introduction of the Israeli matriculation, or bagrut, into the Arab sector’s schools. Now Elkin is officially announcing that this is the next aim. He says it is unacceptable that children living in Jerusalem and studying in schools budgeted by the municipality should study a curriculum run by the Palestinian Authority. A source inside the Arab parents committees said that only a few will openly use the Israeli curriculum, although they would prefer it. So the solution is in the hands of the municipality: Simply impose it.

Saving Ein Kerem
A big deception took place last week for environmental activists and residents of the picturesque village of Ein Kerem. Despite a long and stubborn struggle to change a decision of the local Planning and Building Committee, the district committee approved a project to build the IDF College on the slope of Ein Kerem. The decision to move the prestigious college to the city was an achievement of former mayor Nir Barkat, who had to choose between the slopes of Mt. Scopus near the Hebrew University in the French Hill neighborhood or Ein Kerem.
Barkat decide to go for Ein Kerem, and for more than two years, a tight struggle of an ad-hoc residents and activists association tried to change the decision. But last week, the district committee opted for Ein Kerem for the project, which will also include a very large bunker. The next step is an appeal to the National Committee for Planning. That was submitted immediately after the decision of the district committee. The major reason for the opposition to the project in Ein Kerem is concern that it will harm the unique terrace cultivation located there. Another concern is that during the construction there will be chaos in the infrastructure and traffic systems of the little village.

Connected in the park
Gan Sacher Park is going to have a face-lift that will include free Wi-fi, improvement and enlargement of sports facilities, benches and a dog garden. Although the project has been presented as a new initiative by the current administration, the upgrading is not new. It was already approved a few months before the last elections. Meanwhile, NIS 30 million has been approved for the project. Two years ago, the project was presented to the council by City Council member Ofer Berkovitch, who fumes now at Mayor Moshe Lion, whom he accuses of recycling the project as being his initiative. Lion says he has added NIS 15 million to the project after realizing that nothing had been done since the upgrade was approved.
Make peace not war
Are businessmen in the city’s center being incited against the mayor and his staff? According to a source close to the mayor’s office, this is the real reason behind protests by a group of business owners who have accused the municipality of ruining their businesses. Complaints about unjust tickets, lack of parking and heavy taxes have turned their professional life into a nightmare, say the owners, all of whom are members of a local association of businesses from the city’s center.
In reply to their protest, the municipality has agreed to create a special committee that will serve as an address for these complaints, and will try to look for solutions. According to one of the owners, as a first step to create some trust between the parties, inspectors have been asked not to give tickets too rapidly and to take into consideration the problems of car owners.

Document and text
The fifth Docu.Text Documentary Film Festival of the National Library is kicking off this week with a series of films and lectures. From August 18-22, films about some of the most emblematic figures of Israel, like the late Golda Meir and legendary Jerusalem-born actor Yossi Banai, will be screened. A guided tour inside the library on the history of printing will also be offered. The tour will take viewers from the beginnings of print to the first modern Hebrew letter design. It will include rare manuscripts from Sufi masters and a study of the documentary scene in an era of fake news. The program will also feature aspects of Jewish-Arabic musical traditions from collections held in the archives of music at the National Library. For more information, go to docutext.nli.org.il.

New dawn in the East
The local Planning and Construction Committee approved earlier this week a new master plan for the Arab neighborhood of Ras El-Amud. According to the plan, construction for public use and private housing will be now enabled in order to ease conditions of for residents there and to avoid illegal construction. The new plan has to be approved by the district committee before it can be implemented. Once this has been done, private entrepreneurs can submit proposals to the local committee for approval for construction to meet private and public needs, including schools, community centers and business spaces.

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