On July 12, The National Committee of the Head of Arab Local Authorities and the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education announced the establishment of the Arab Pedagogic Council. Dirasat is proud that Prof. Muhamad Amara, the first Chairperson of Dirasat's board, has been elected to serve as its Chairperson. This announcement is the culmination of several years of discussions and meetings among leading educators and activists, both Jewish and Arab, initiated by Dirasat and the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education. Over the course of the last two years, Dirasat through the direct involvement of its director, Dr. Yousef Jabraeen, and its leading expert in education, Dr. Ayman Agbaria, provided ongoing policy counseling and data analysis. Dirasat also initiated several round-table discussions and position papers in support of the Council.
There is wide consensus among education experts that the Arab-Palestinian education system suffers from serious and multifaceted discrimination including inequalities in resource allocation, lack of recognition of the Arab minority's national and cultural narrative and the exclusion of Arab leadership from a role in decision-making and the establishment of policy. While Arab-Palestinians are indigenous to the country and a cultural minority, their unique situation is not reflected in educational law or administration.
The education system in Israel consists of two main streams: religious and secular. Within these streams Jewish religious and secular schools enjoy full autonomy in determining and administering their educational policies and curricula. State religious Jewish schools, for example, benefit from the pedagogical guidance and services of an autonomous and fully funded pedagogical council, which is recognized by law. While Arab education is also overseen by the Ministry of Education, it does not benefit from any form of self-steering nor are Arab schools granted similar funding or services. This is in contradiction of the Law of State Education which stipulates that an advisory council for Arab education must be established.
The newly established Pedagogic Council for Arab Education is a voluntary group on 30 Arab academics and professionals. It aims to promote educational policies appropriate for the Arab-Palestinian community. Specifically, it will initiate an examination of the curriculum currently in use and revise and tailor it in accordance with the linguistic and cultural needs of the Arab-Palestinian community. Council founders hope that the Council will be recognized by the Ministry of Education.
Dirasat believes that the establishment of the Pedagogic Council for Arab Education is an important milestone on the road to educational self-steering for Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel. Recognition of the Council's legitimacy by the State will go a long way towards equalizing education for all citizens in Israel and will partially alleviate a significant bone of contention between the Arab-Palestinian minority and the State. Furthermore, development of a curriculum which reflects the unique culture, language and narrative of Arab-Palestinians, and the sense of pride instilled by learning ones identify will boost academic achievement. Dirasat is proud to be a part of this important endeavor, and will continue to support the professional work of the Council in the future.
For additional information on this topic, please see:
Who's Afraid of Educated Arabs? (Dr. Jabareen, July, 2009)
Toward an equal Arab-Palestinian education in Israel
(Dr. Yousef Jabareen, 8.10.09)
Stop telling Arabs what's good for them (Dr. Ayman Agbaria, August, 2008)
Pictured Above - The press conference announcing the establishment of the Council. From the right: Dr. Yousef Jabareen (Director of Dirasat), Prof. Muhammad Amara, Mr. Ramez Jaraysi (Mayor of Nazareth), Dr. Hala Espanioly (Head of the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education), and Raja Zaatry (Media Coordinator).