(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
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
“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
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.
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