While the 20% Arab minority in Israel learns Hebrew, the Hebrew speaker rarely learn Arabic and it appears Israel’s Education Ministry wishes to change this by compelling Hebrew speaking elementary schools to teach Arabic.
Today, it is supposed to be mandatory from seventh to ninth grade but this is not implanted as it should. In the Arabic-speaking public schools, Hebrew is mandatory from third grade.
The Abraham Fund, a Jewish-Arab organization, is involved in this initiative. Development Director Anton Goodman told Yisrael Hayom this will assist in bringing the Jewish majority and Arabic minority together.
Abraham Fund Educational Initiatives Director Hazar Masri-Hussein adds that in addition to teaching Arabic language, students will learn culture. She feels this is imperative towards developing a tolerance and understanding for one another.
Goodman feels the program will assist everyone to “prosper and embrace the others identity” as well.
The curriculum used was developed in 2005 and introduced as a pilot program in 30 schools, in the north in Haifa and other areas and five years after it was expanded, becoming mandatory in the north with the cooperation with the Education Ministry. It is now implemented in 200 schools and only mandatory in the north and Haifa. About 100 Arabic teachers are integrated into the program.
Goodman feels the ministry’s decision “is a landmark… with incredible potential”, offering the fund’s continued assistance. He feels Arabic teachers should be teaching and it should continue with spoken Arabic in all Jewish schools from first to twelfth grades.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)