NIS 9 billion pledged to narrow education gaps for Arab Israelis

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Israel’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Equality to approve joint plan next week to increase school enrollment rates, increase number of classrooms and reduce dropout rates – among other initiatives aimed at reducing the educational gaps for Israeli Arabs.

Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen and Education Minister Dr Yifat Shasha-Bitton released key drivers for the joint project, which is part of a comprehensive five-year plan to increase equality within of Israeli Arab society. The plan will be submitted for approval later this month.

The agreements will introduce a comprehensive program to improve Hebrew literacy, develop more relevant educational content, promote after-school education, reduce dropout rates, and more. The proposal also pledges NIS 2.4 billion for the construction of classrooms in Arab regions, which will provide more than 3,500 classrooms and kindergartens, and an additional investment of NIS 7,000 per Arab student. Other initiatives include improving the quality of teachers by raising hiring standards and expanding training programs.

The goals set by the education strategy include reducing by at least 50% the gap between Jewish and Arab students in university enrollment among all 18-year-olds, as well as working at a significant increase in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests. scores among Arabic speaking students.

“The guiding principle of the Five-Year Plan for Arab Society is to narrow the gaps,” Minister Cohen said. “Since everything starts with education, the program we have formulated on the ground is particularly important and includes an investment of 9.4 billion shekels to close the gaps. “

A significant gap exists between Jewish and Arab societies when it comes to investment in education. A 2019 report from the Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality noted that textbooks and other educational materials made no mention of Arab cultural images or places. “A Jewish student in Israel can graduate from high school without ever having met a single Arab student in person, and the reverse is also true,” the study reads. “This void fostered distorted group perceptions on both sides, hampering children’s ability to cope with prevalent negative stereotypes of the other group.”

Data from the Ministry of Education reveals that the Arab system is allocated lower budgets in all areas – between 20% and 40% less – as well as fewer staff training days, less investment in programs / special supervision and a huge shortage of basic physical infrastructure, namely computers, science laboratories and libraries. The data also indicated an under-representation of Arabs in leadership positions in the education system – including within the education ministry itself – and a curriculum that ignores Arab culture, history and literature.

“Strengthening the education system in Arab society and investing in it is the key to reducing the gaps in Israeli society, for optimal integration and to maintain our resilience as a state,” the minister said. Shasha-Bitton. “The budgets that will be invested in the education system of Arab localities will provide its students with tools and skills that will strengthen the community,” she added.

The education committee discusses education in Haredi schools. (credit: NOAM MOSKOVITZ / KNESSET)

Party leader Ra’am Mansour Abbas, the first Israeli Arab to be a member of a coalition government, also commented on the education measures: in various fields. There is also significant progress in bridging the gap between Arab and Jewish students.

“I thank Sarah Yifat Shasha Bitton and Meirav Cohen for the cooperation which led to the formulation of the education program.”


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