The aim of the state educational system, according to Israel's State Education Law is:
The State Education Law also provides that "in non-Jewish educational institutions, the curriculum shall be adopted to the special conditions thereof."241to base elementary education in the state on the values of Jewish culture and the achievements of science, on love of the homeland and loyalty to the state and the Jewish people, on practice in agricultural work and handicraft, and chalutzik [pioneer] training, and on striving for a society built on freedom, equality, tolerance, mutual assistance and love of mankind.240
The Arab education system, however, has been widely criticized by Palestinian Arabs as failing to adequately consider the Palestinian identity of Arabs in Israel. Although some changes have been made recently in the curriculum, the overarching aims of education remain based on the transmission of Jewish values and culture, and Zionist thought. This type of education may be appropriate for Jewish children, but it is inappropriate for children belonging to the Palestinian Arab minority within Israel, who comprise over 20 percent of children in Israeli schools. Article 29(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child focuses on the aims of children's education:
The convention does not attempt to prescribe the specific content of education but makes clear that the development of respect for the child's cultural identity shall be one of the purposes of education. While the diverse aims of article 29 at times may appear to be in conflict with one another, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated that "the importance of this provision lies precisely in its recognition of the need for a balanced approach to education and one which succeeds in reconciling diverse values through dialogue and respect for difference."243 Thus while instruction on the state's national values shall be a part of education, state authorities should make special effort to harmonize this with lessons on the child's own cultural identity, language, and values, even where perceived to be in conflict. Pursuit of one aim shall not trump another, but rather all aims must be considered together in the best interests of the child.(a) the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has commented that article 29(1) emphasizes the child's "individual and subjective right to a specific quality of education" that is "child-centered," and where "the curriculum must be of direct relevance to the child's social, cultural, environmental, and economic context. . . ."244 The U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has similarly stated that "the form and substance of education, including curricula and teaching methods, have to be acceptable (e.g. relevant, culturally appropriate and of good quality) to students . . . ."245 Curricula must be culturally relevant for children in order for them to receive the full benefits of education.
Children belonging to ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities, or of indigenous origin, are entitled to further special consideration and protection, taking into account their unique group identities. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, interpreting article 13 of the ICESCR on the right to education, has declared that states must "fulfil (facilitate) the acceptability of education by taking positive measures to ensure that education is culturally appropriate for minorities and indigenous peoples. . . ."246 Article 30 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides further general protection to children belonging to ethnic, religious, or linguistic minorities, or who are indigenous; such a child "shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language."247
Finally, regarding the content of education, religious instruction is singled out for special consideration in international law. Interpreting article 13(3) of the ICESCR, on the right of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has stated that the ICESCR
Similarly, under the Convention against Discrimination in Education, "no person or group of persons should be compelled to receive religious instruction inconsistent with his or their conviction."249permits public school instruction in subjects such as the general history of religions and ethics if it is given in an unbiased and objective way, respectful of the freedoms of opinion, conscience and expression. . . . [P]ublic education that includes instruction in a particular religion or belief is inconsistent with article 13(3) unless provision is made for non-discriminatory exemptions or alternatives that would accommodate the wishes of parents and guardians.248
Subjects in Arab schools can be divided into three categories: 1) subjects such as math and science that are the same for students in Arab and Jewish schools, where the curriculum is translated from Hebrew into Arabic; 2) subjects such as civics that are taken from those developed for Jewish schools and adapted for use in Arab schools; and 3) subjects unique to Arab education such as Hebrew as a second language and Arabic as mother tongue that are developed solely for use in Arab schools. For each subject a "curriculum" or syllabus is developed and published by the Ministry of Education as a guide for teachers in all schools throughout the country.
Curricula for the various subjects are developed by the Curriculum Department within the Pedagogical Administration of the Ministry of Education. Khawla Saadi currently holds the position of Director of Curriculum for Arab Israeli Schools, within the Curriculum Department. According to Saadi, she works with a team of twenty people who fill the equivalent of five full-time positions (within a department with sixty full-time positions) to oversee and develop the curricula for all subjects from kindergarten through grade twelve in Arab schools.250 In practice, committees of educators and experts are formed to develop the curricula for a particular subject for particular grade levels. For subjects unique to Arab schools and subjects that must be adapted for use in Arab schools, Palestinian Arab educators and experts, along with Jewish educators, develop the curricula. However, Palestinian Arabs' opportunity to participate in the committees that develop the common subjects is limited, further fueling students' feelings of alienation from their education's content.
Senior lecturer Andre Elias Mazawi, head of the Sociology of Education Program at Tel Aviv University, commented on the importance of considering Palestinian Arab identity in all subjects, not only the special subjects: "There are questions of culture in all subjects. All subjects need to take into account the background of the students. Most curricula are just translated into Arabic and not specially adapted. Even in less value-laden subjects, there is bias."251 This bias is reflected, for example, in the use of Hebrew names and Jewish references as examples in textbooks, in which Arabs appear to be nonexistent or are portrayed in stereotype. "Books still present us as working in the fields," remarked a high school Hebrew teacher in Nazareth.252 Nabila Espanioly, director of the Al-Tufula Pedagogical Center in Nazareth, showed Human Rights Watch an example given in a kindergarten textbook of "traditional work": four photographs depicting a Jewish scribe writing, an Arab cutting stone, an Arab making ceramics, and an Arab cleaning shoes.253
Some Palestinian Arab teachers attempt to adapt the published curricula to make them more sensitive to their cultural identity, values and needs, and bring in outside teaching materials and lessons that they develop on their own to address issues of Palestinian identity. For example a sixth grade geography teacher explained how he independently adapts the curricula for his students: "There are many paragraphs related to the geography of the Jewish people and Israel, and I add that Palestine has a relation."254 However, teachers do this at a price, as they are still responsible for covering the material in the syllabus and may risk censure and punishment if found out: "I tried to introduce other texts but I didn't try to ask for permission. I took the risk that I would get fired. It makes more work for the kids because we have to do the basic texts anyway," said one Hebrew language teacher in an Arab high school.255 Another teacher in a primary school in an unrecognized village similarly stated, "[I]t makes it difficult to teach because [the curriculum] is not adapted to the Arab students, only the Jewish student's way of life, thinking. If we try to adapt the curriculum to the Arab students, we'll have bad results [on exams]."0
Consideration of Palestinian Arab identity requires greater participation of Palestinian Arab educators in curriculum development. "Right now there are not Arabs in all departments dealing with them in education. We asked the ministry to make a clear statement on representation in all the departments for Arab education-this is basic," Saadi remarked. The area where positive changes have taken place are, not surprisingly, in subjects that are unique or adapted for Arab education where Palestinian Arab educators have participated in curriculum development and have pushed for reform. The most notable changes have recently taken place in the subjects of high school history, geography for grades five to nine, and civics. These changes will be discussed in greater detail below.
On the whole, children in Arab schools receive a Jewish education, using curricula and teaching materials first developed by Jewish educators for use in Jewish schools and later translated into Arabic.1 "The ministry's curriculum is translated from the Hebrew which is a different culture. It's a bad translation and it's old curriculum," the vice-principal of an Arab primary school told Human Rights Watch.2 Delays in translation result in Arab schools lagging behind Jewish schools, relying on outdated curricula or, in some cases, no curricula at all. "We can't even dream about closing the gap between us and Jewish schools. We started ten years later with a low budget and few people. We can't close the gap ever--maybe narrow it, but never close it," stated Khawla Saadi, Director of Curriculum for Arab Israeli Schools.3 She explained that "[s]ome syllabi are not translated because teachers can read Hebrew."
With few resources dedicated to Arabic curriculum development, Palestinian Arab educators working on curriculum development are overextended, and advances are slow. A school counselor at an Arab high school in Nazareth explained:
A review of the published curricula for Arab schools shows curricula in some subjects that is ten, and in a few cases, over twenty years old. Deneis A., a parent who sent her daughter to a Jewish school and later to an Arab school, commented on the disparity between the two systems. In the Jewish school, she explained "[e]very two years there were new books, and teachers have lots of books to choose from." In contrast, in the Arab school "[t]he Arab children have to wait two or three years until the Hebrew curriculum is translated, so they are always behind."5It's not just the material, the main problem is that when the ministry does an educational program, they never do it in Arabic. Many things aren't even translated. We have to translate them and fit them to our needs. For example, the life skills program--it doesn't fit our needs and our specialties in Arab society, and we have to get funds to translate. We always ask them to do in Arabic, to put an Arab person on the committee. We have to work double time.4
Human Rights Watch found no special education curricula adapted for Arab students in the special education schools and classes we visited. "We just get the normal curriculum," explained a speech therapist working in an Arab school for physically disabled children.6 The principal of the school confirmed: "We just get the normal curriculum, nothing special. We look for special material and we create some. If we need a work book, we make it here."7 Another speech therapist in an Arab school for mentally disabled children commented on the absence of curricula: "we don't have programs for special education. "We have to make everything--exams, papers--everything." When asked how she created her own curriculum, she replied "I take it from regular Arabic books and prepare some questions. We adapt curriculum for regular schools and try to make it easier."8
Khawla Saadi told Human Rights Watch that four or five Arabic special education books for the primary level were published in 2000, and that she had given most of her budget that year to their development.9 The materials had not yet been distributed in any of the schools Human Rights Watch visited.
Finally, although published curricula do exist for most subjects in Arab schools, there is still a dearth of teaching materials and textbooks available in Arabic. Thus even with a sound curriculum in place, implementation is difficult without the appropriate Arabic textbooks. The result is that children in Arab schools perceive their education as second hand and second rate compared to their counterparts in Jewish schools.
A critical dimension of Palestinian Arabs' education lies with the availability of materials used to teach the required curricula, and the lack thereof. "There is an enormous difference in the quantity of material. Material for Arab schools must be translated from Hebrew," commented Daphna Golan, the chair of the Committee for Closing the Gap within the Pedagogical Secretariat of the Ministry of Education.10 "We have all the syllabi but not all syllabi have materials. This is the gap," stated Khawla Saadi.11 Thick catalogues of teaching materials for Jewish schools stand in stark contrast to the thin catalogues of materials available for Arab schools.
For example, a kindergarten teacher may turn to a guidebook of in-class programs and find that although there may be many suggested lessons, there are few materials to support him or her in the classroom. "If I am a good teacher, I go to the catalogue and pick an environmental program. The Arab teacher doesn't have any material to support her work on the environment, so she invents it or goes without," explained Nabila Espanioly, director of Al-Tufula Pedagogical Center, commenting on a guidebook of programs for kindergarten teachers.12 This criticism was echoed by many teachers and educators interviewed by Human Rights Watch. Zafer Shurbaji, of the Fund for the Development of Technological Education in the Arab Sector, stated that there are no computer programs in Arabic: "Maybe you have the computers, but not the programs in Arabic. It's starting to change, but not enough. I think we are twenty years behind the Jewish sector."13 Khawla Saadi confirmed that there are no Arabic computer books for Arab schools.14
The scarcity of teaching materials for Arab schools is attributable in large part to the absence of government resources devoted to the development of such materials. "The Jewish system of education is very dynamic and always evolving. The Arab system is fixed, stagnant. Until now we don't have a center to do research on education, to develop teaching texts for the Arab community," commented Professor George Kanazi', a former adviser to the Ministry of Education.15 Professor Butrus Abu-Manneh, an expert on Arab history curriculum at Haifa University, explained: "In Hebrew schools, each curriculum department would have a committee that would approve textbooks and develop materials for many different subjects. Arabs don't have a committee for preparing books and so forth. It's left to be done in the form of unofficial publications."16
Without the financial commitment and support of the Israeli government, development of Arabic teaching materials will continue to lag behind. According to Khawla Saadi:
In recent years the Ministry of Education has moved towards decentralizing the development and publication of textbooks, giving responsibility of drafting textbooks to private institutions.18 The move towards privatization is viewed by Palestinian Arab educators as likely to further hinder the development of Arabic teaching materials.The biggest difference between the two systems is the material. There is a big lack of specialists in the Arab system who can write books according to the curriculum. It is also hard to get published because the market is so small that it is not profitable for private companies to publish them. So if the government doesn't publish them, no one will.17
Regarding specific subjects, Palestinian Arab parents, students and teachers alike complain of compulsory instruction in Tanach (Jewish bible) and Judaism through the teaching of Hebrew language and literature in Arab high schools. Students in Arab schools begin learning Hebrew in the third grade and continue the subject through high school.19 Although both Hebrew and Arabic are recognized as official languages, in practice, Hebrew is the principal language of the state of Israel, and fluency in the language is a necessary tool for all children to participate fully in society. Aside from the goals of advancing communication between Palestinian Arabs and Jews and enabling Palestinian Arab students' participation in the life of the state, other official goals of Hebrew instruction in Arab schools are: for children in grades three through six, to "strengthen loyalty to the state of Israel," and to advance "familiarity with the Hebrew cultural and literary inheritance of the Jewish people and their descendants and the values of that inheritance;"20 and for children in grades seven through nine, "to increase familiarity of students with part of the cultural and literary heritage of the Jewish people and with the value of Hebrew culture."21
In the lower grades, children in Arab schools learn basic reading and writing in Hebrew, and study the Jewish religious holidays and their significance. The curriculum for grades seven through nine allocates 10 to 15 percent of the studied literature to biblical sources and an additional 10 percent to literature of the sages, which include Jewish Talmudic scholars.
There is no written curriculum for Hebrew instruction for grades ten to twelve,22 but the matriculation exam (bagrut), which all students graduating from high school must take, contains a mandatory unit on Tanach. While the Ministry of Education states that Palestinian Arab students may take the bible portion of the matriculation exams on Christianity, Islam or the Druze religion, Palestinian Arab students and teachers stated that their Hebrew language exam covers Jewish religious texts. Also, the Central Bureau of Statistics has written that compulsory subjects in Arab education include "Hebrew (incl. Bible and literature)."23 All students in Arab high schools thus must study Tanach in Hebrew language class, without exception. A Hebrew language teacher in an Arab high school in Nazareth described her pupils' reaction to the subject: "Some children see it as imposed on them. It makes it hard for the teacher to motivate students to study. It doesn't relate to Arab children as whole. . . but because of the bagrut we have to cover the material."24
Instilling in children an appreciation for different cultures and values is a vital part of education. However, when one considers the relatively minimal instruction available to Palestinian Arab children on their own cultural identity and religion, compared to their counterparts in Jewish schools, the state's educational emphasis on instilling Jewish religion in Palestinian Arab children is problematic. For example, according to the Ministry of Education, seven hours per pupil are scheduled for "Arab culture or Islam or Christianity or Druze heritage" for grades seven through nine in Arab schools.25 By contrast, for grades seven through nine in Jewish schools26 double that amount (fourteen hours) are scheduled for "Bible and Judaic Studies."27 The imbalance is greater in grades ten through twelve; in Arab schools three to four hours per pupil are scheduled for "Arab culture or Islam or Christianity or Druze Heritage" compared to nine hours per pupil in Jewish schools for "Bible and Judaic Studies."28 When one considers the broader framework of Arab education, with its overriding emphasis on instilling Jewish values and culture as whole, the imbalance is even more stark.
Another criticism of Hebrew language instruction is of the infrequent use of Arab writers in Hebrew. Although the official curriculum for Hebrew in Arab schools for grades seven through nine provides for the inclusion of Arab writers of the Hebrew language,29 few examples are found in practice. "I teach literature of the Jews, poems of Jewish writers, religion of the Jews. There are Arabs who write in Hebrew, poems in Hebrew, but they are not taught," noted a Hebrew language teacher at an Arab technical high school in Haifa.30
On a similar note, in Arabic language and literature classes in Arab schools, students and educators expressed a desire to study the works of more Palestinian writers, on issues related to identity. It was widely commented that the works of well known Palestinian writers were used only when lyric in nature or to describe scenes of natural beauty, and that essays and poems addressing Palestinian identity were omitted from the curriculum. "The great Palestinian writers, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Emil Habibi, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Tawfiq Ziyad, Samih al-Qasim are not studied," stated Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, a network of nongovernmental organizations working on Palestinian youth issues.31
The teaching of Palestinian history is important in establishing children's respect and appreciation for their own cultural identity. Palestinian Arab students, parents, and teachers interviewed by Human Rights Watch uniformly criticized existing curricula for their failure to educate children on this subject:
Other interviewees echoed the sentiment that the Israeli education system as it exists today is designed to separate Palestinian children from their past and from the Palestinian people. "It's taking us out of our culture and history. . . . They try to separate us from the Palestinian people-they say, `You are not Palestinian,'" said Amal Elsana-Alhooj, a Bedouin woman who works with the nongovernmental organization Shatil.35When we learn about the Greek or Roman period we learn so much about it, but it is not connected to us. Why don't we learn a little of our own history? Yes, they teach us a little of Arab history, but only from a small period, like Mohammed and the Caliphs. In Jewish schools, they learn lots about Jewish history and about all the Jews. Sometimes the [Palestinian Arab] students would learn Palestinian history at an event, where the teachers would themselves talk to children about it. But it's not part of the syllabus.32
In response to such criticism, the Ministry of Education published a new history curriculum in 1999 for use in Arab high schools. For the first time, one of the stated goals of teaching history in Arab high schools is "to develop the pupils' feelings towards his Arab Palestinian nation and the Arab world and culture from one side, and the state of Israel and its citizens from the other," commented Said Barghouti, inspector of history for Arab schools, who participated in reviewing the new curricula for history, geography, and civics.36 Professor Butrus Abu-Manneh, who participated in the drafting of the new curricula, remarked:
The new curriculum contains five units, including a specific unit on Palestinian history, heretofore an untouched subject in Arab schools.38 This marks a significant step forward in the Arab education system, and for the Israeli education system as whole. "It may be difficult to implement these goals into textbooks and actual teaching, but at least it is now being recognized on paper," added Barghouti.39For the first time ever, we did it. We did it from the period of Arab conquest of Palestine up until 1948. We wanted to teach pupils the history of their own people. We thought the kids had emptiness about their own life. We wanted them to feel his roots and feel proud of his people and history.37
The implementation of any new curriculum, however, is difficult without the appropriate teaching materials. The new curriculum has not yet been fully implemented in Arab schools as textbooks are lacking. "Still more textbooks are needed for the new curriculum to be implemented-a patchwork approach is being used now . . . [t]rying to find materials to make do," said Barghouti.40 Jony Mansour, Dean of Mar Elias College, explained that only one textbook exists for the new curriculum, "The Middle East in the Modern Period," which was published in two volumes by the Ministry of Education in 1995 and 1998. He noted that the new textbook, which is used to teach the first of the five units of the history curriculum, was published before the new curriculum was published in 1999. "In the Jewish sector, they publish the curriculum first, then the books, and lots of them. For us the Arabs, for each subject we have only one choice, no choice," said Mansour.41 Again, as discussed above, the problem lies with the absence of government funds devoted to research and development of teaching materials in Arabic.
Other positive reforms have taken place in the subjects of geography and civics, which are subjects that are adapted for use in Arab schools. Related to history, a new geography curriculum for grades five to nine was published in 1998 for both Jewish and Arab schools. Thanks to the efforts of Palestinian Arab educators in the curriculum development process, which took over ten years, students will not be taught that Palestinian Arab and Druze communities were one of the "problems" or obstacles that Jewish settlers faced; rather there will be separate sections on Palestinian Arab communities and on Jewish settlements.42 And in new geography textbooks in Arab schools, "we're trying to put Hebrew and Arabic names [for places] side by side," said Barghouti, whereas in the past Arabic names were largely omitted from texts.43 Still, the primary emphasis in the curriculum in Arab schools is on the significance of places within Israel to Judaism, with some attention paid to Christianity and Islam, and there are no references to Palestine or Palestinian territory.
A "rationale," or guideline, for a new civics curriculum was presented in 1996, entitled "To be Citizens During the 21st Century: Education for Citizenship for all Students of Israel." Based on this, a new civics curriculum was developed and published for use in Jewish and Arab schools (the Arabic curriculum is adapted), which addresses, in part, issues of majority and minority rights in a state that defines itself as Jewish and democratic.44 According to Barghouti, the new curriculum was implemented in Jewish schools last year, but was introduced as experimental in only fifteen Arab schools. Again, delays in implementation are attributed to lack of textbooks: "the textbook writers for Jewish schools began their work a year earlier," he explained.45
Other educators still have criticized the recent reforms for failing to address the issue of Palestinian Arab identity adequately in Arab schools and for failing to address it at all in Jewish schools. It must be underlined that all of the changes discussed above refer to changes in Arab schools only. Professor Majid Al Haj, a noted expert on Arab education in Israel based at Haifa University, commented:
Indeed, a primary focus of Limor Livnat, Minister of Education appointed in 2001, has been to increase the curricula's focus on Jewish values and culture. "What I would like to see is that there is not a single child in Israel who doesn't learn the basics of Jewish and Zionist knowledge and values," she told a journalist.47 Beginning in the fall of 2001, middle school students will take a course entitled "Jewish heritage," at an annual cost to the state of NIS 30 million ($7.5 million).48 While Livnat explained that Palestinian Arab students will not be required to take the course and referred to the most recent five-year plan discussed above, she did not outline plans for additional funding for Arab education. These developments illustrate the Ministry of Education's overwhelming emphasis on Jewish education and Jewish children, with Palestinian Arab children as an afterthought.The issue of the Palestinian identity is not really addressed in Arab books and certainly not in the books for Hebrew schools. . . . The syllabus ignores the major issue of citizenship of Arab students. . . . The issue should not be to identify the self as Palestinian but to assess whether one has full citizenship rights. Are we full citizens or not? It's asymmetric education, one-sided multiculturalism, where Arab students are educated for control and Jewish students for ethnocentric rule.46
The Israeli government has made some positive changes in curricula for Arab schools, principally in the few subjects that are specially adapted for Arab schools. Still, further changes are needed, not only in the special subjects for Arab schools, but in the system as a whole. Barghouti commented:
In history, geography, and civics, we are trying to deal with it, but that is not enough. It needs to be more comprehensive. There is a need to decide the main objectives of Arab education in Israel and to try to apply them using materials aimed at developing a person to be aware of his identity and his national identity, and the dilemma between both, and how to deal with that.49
Part of allowing and enabling children to reconcile difference requires recognition and respect for difference, rather than denial and erasure of it. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has stressed the importance of the aims of education as a means of "reconciling diverse values through dialogues and respect for difference. Moreover children are capable of playing a unique role in bridging many of the differences that have historically separated groups of people from another."50 Greater consideration and recognition of the unique identity of Palestinian Arab children in curricula and teaching materials in both Jewish and Arab schools can serve to bridge the gap between Palestinian Arab and Jewish children, rather than drive them apart. Only by allowing Palestinian Arab children the right to enjoy their culture, history, and values alongside state national values will children learn by example how to reconcile difference, through tolerance and mutual respect.
[States parties] agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.243 General Comment 1, The Aims of Education (Article 29(1)), Committee on the Rights of the Child, U.N. Doc. CRC/GC/2001/1 (April 17, 2001), para. 4.
247 Convention on the Rights of the Child, art. 30. In addition, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities, which is not binding but which provides authoritative guidance to states, declares that: "States should, where appropriate, take measures in the field of education, in order to encourage knowledge of the history, traditions, language and culture of the minorities existing within their territory." Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities, art. 4(4), adopted December 18, 1992, G.A. Res. 47/135.
1 Problems in translation relate not only to delays in translation, but also to the quality of translation, which several interviewees noted was mixed. Translation problems extend to other areas of education as well. Several interviewees complained about the quality of the Arabic translation of the psychometric exam (a standardized exam required for all students seeking admission to university), resulting in poorer exam results for Arab students.
15 Human Rights Watch interview with Professor George Kanazi', Professor of Arabic, Haifa University, former adviser to Ministry of Education in 1992-95, former member of committee to prepare curriculum for Arabic language and literature, and a former member of committee to evaluate achievement of Arabic mother tongue instruction for grades four through eight, Haifa, December 8, 2000.
19 Instruction in Arabic as a second language for Jewish students is not a compulsory subject in all Jewish schools, despite the fact that Arabic is recognized as an official language of Israel. Human Rights Watch received different reports from principals of Jewish schools on whether Arabic was a required subject in their schools. Two ninth-grade students from a Jewish intermediate school who did study Arabic told us that some students in their school took French instead. Human Rights Watch group interview, Nazareth Ilit, December 13, 2000. We also talked with three seventh-grade students, two girls who studied French and one boy who studied Arabic. In their school, they said, the third language was determined by their English grades. High scorers took French; low scorers took Arabic. Human Rights Watch group interview, Haifa, December 12, 2000. An expert on Arabic language and literature explained, "the Ministry of Education decided it should be compulsory in Jewish schools some years ago, but it has not been implemented yet." Human Rights Watch interview with Professor George Kanazi', Professor of Arabic, Haifa University, Haifa, December 8, 2000. What is certain is that Arabic is not a compulsory subject in the matriculation exams for Jewish students. Hebrew has long been a required subject on the matriculation exams for Palestinian Arab students.
21 Ministry of Education, Hebrew Curriculum for Arab Students (1988), Grades 7-9, section on goals. For comparison, the goals of Arabic literature in Arab schools include: "Developing the students pride in the Arabic language with respect to the fact that it is the national language and a main component of his character," and "Students' absorbing high ethics and human values from both Arabic and global heritage and culture." Ministry of Education, Arabic Literature Curriculum for the Secondary Level, Grades 10-12, p. 6; and Ministry of Education, Arabic Literature Curriculum for Grades 7 - 9 in Arabic Schools, p. 5 (English translation by Human Rights Watch).
40 According to Barghouti, two new textbooks were developed for history in Arab high schools, but only one had been published at the time of writing, on "the Middle East from the nineteenth century to 1948."
45 Human Rights Watch interview with Said Barghouti, Inspector of History for Arab Schools, Ministry of Education, Nazareth, December 9, 2000. According to Barghouti, a curriculum on "homeland and society" is also currently being developed for Jewish and Arab schools to address issues of Zionism and the Palestinian Arab nation.