Education Ministry to Ease Civics Exam for Arab Students

Teachers in Arab high schools had complained of poor and delayed translations into Arabic, and Jewish bias in study materials.

Talila Nesher
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The Education Ministry has acknowledged problems with the civics curriculum in Israel's Arab high schools but has stopped short of excluding material teachers say was poorly and delinquently translated from Hebrew from matriculation exams this summer.

Civics teachers at Arab high schools say their students should not be tested on new material when they take the civics matriculation exam in Arabic in early July because it was poorly translated into Arabic, with many mistakes in the text.

In addition, the teachers say delays in receiving the new material have prevented them from teaching it well. Only some of the material was translated into Arabic and that was more than five months after the school year began.

The ministry recently granted 15 hours of extra in-class study time for the students taking the civics matriculation exam in Arabic. It also said it would take their situation into consideration when grading the exam and pledged to make changes to the Arabic-language civics curriculum.

I realize that the primary difficulty relates to the feeling of alienation on the part of teachers and students with regard to the new material, which leads to antagonism, said Eliraz Kaus, the acting Education Ministry coordinator of civics instruction, in a letter to teachers last week. In the matriculation exam we will take into consideration that this is new material, as well as the time when the material arrived, she wrote, adding that the ministry thinks the teachers have enough time to incorporate the new curriculum into their classrooms but has allocated the additional study hours nonetheless.

The civics teachers also complained of a broader bias in the civics curriculum. In a statement, they said, The content of the material has not been matched to Arab students. They have difficulty relating to the examples given in the curriculum, which "reflects only the Jewish narrative.

Students at an Arab high school in Haifa.Credit: Yaron Kaminsky