'Israeli-Arab teachers to integrate into schools'

Education Ministry program aims to employ 500 teachers in 5 years, teaching science, math, English and Arabic.

June 4, 2013 22:05
2 minute read.

Students. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Education Ministry is launching a new five-year program to integrate Israeli-Arab teachers into Jewish schools in order to fill a shortage of teachers for core subjects.

The program calls for 500 teachers to be fully integrated into schools in five years, teaching science, math, English, and Arabic – subjects with a severe shortage of teachers – according to a report by Channel 2 on Tuesday. The program will cost six million dollars.

Muhammad Darawshe, the co-executive director – along with Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu – of the Abraham Fund Initiatives in Israel, which promotes the integration and equality of Arab citizens, told The Jerusalem Post he thinks this is a great day for the 18,000 Arab university graduates that can enter this job market, which had been closed to them until now.

Darawshe links the Education Ministry’s move directly to the Abraham Fund’s pilot program, Ya Salam, which it began in 2005, introducing Arab Arabic language teachers into Jewish schools.

“The Education Ministry used to be afraid of integrating Arab teachers into Jewish schools and we proved they are qualified and can adapt,” he said, adding that their program also showed there is “no real opposition from parents, teachers, or children to qualified Arab teachers.”

Arab teachers “first see themselves as teachers, and then as Arabs,” he said.

The next step is to look at the bigger problem, he continued, noting that the Jewish education system lacks 12,000 teachers. Darawshe said he hopes to find matches from qualified Arab teachers to help deal with the unemployment problem in the Arab sector.

In addition, he said that in the long run, the integration of Arab teachers in the Jewish education system will lead to coexistence, since they will serve as ambassadors of goodwill connecting communities and fighting stereotypes.

The Abraham Fund started the Ya Salam program from scratch in 2005, with cooperation from the Education Ministry, completely funding the program in Israeli elementary schools until the government saw value in it and adopted it.

Ya Salam has 85 Arab and 15 Jewish Arabic teachers, who teach both written and spoken Arabic along with aspects of Arab culture to 5th and 6th graders. In 2009, after a trial period, Ya Salam was implemented in every elementary school in Haifa and the northern sector of Israel.

The program began with 15 schools participating in Haifa and Karmiel, growing to 22 a year later with the help of the Education Ministry and the local mayors. Today there are 155 participating schools in the North.

The program has not been uniformly adopted yet in the rest of the country, but it is operating in 13 schools in Tel Aviv and 10 in Jerusalem and Beersheba, with more sought to be added in other regions in the future.

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