The Jerusalem municipality and the Education Ministry will pay for an extended school day in all East Jerusalem secondary schools – but only for boys.
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Formulated in cooperation with the police, the plan for an extended school day was intended in part to solve the problem of rock-throwing by Arab youths after school lets out.
It seems to have been proposed originally by the police, who noticed that most of the stone-throwing took place after schools let out, and near them.
The program was introduced in the middle of the last school year, durng a wave of violence in the eastern part of the capital. It originally encompassed nine schools in some of the most violent neighborhoods, including Silwan, Issawiya, Shuafat, Beit Hanina, and a-Tur. The schools received additional budgets to provide a longer school day for some 2,000 students.
This coming school year, the program will be expanded to 15 schools – in effect, all the public secondary schools for boys. A large portion of the schools in East Jerusalem are private schools.
In the context of the new program, students will be offered courses such as science, computers, sport, art and music. They will also be offered professional training in subjects such as computer programming and application development.
Last year’s program was approved by the Education Ministry, which funded it to the tune of 900,000 shekels ($235,000.)
The decision not to include girls’ schools in the program has drawn criticism. “It is unfair, since the girls deserve it too,” said a senior educational official in East Jerusalem. “It is also strange, since those who usually cause the problems are the students who have dropped out of school.”
“It does not provide equal opportunity for everyone,” said Hatam Hawis, spokesman for the united parents’ committee of East Jerusalem. “The more trouble you make the more you get. In a proper society this is not supposed to happen and it only shows the magnitude of the failure of the establishment in East Jerusalem”
The Jerusalem municipality said: “This is an innovative and unique program, intended to provide an educational – social – vocational answer for male students in the eastern part of the city during the hours after the school day, during which many of them have no appropriate answer. This program is part of a range of educational programs and activities for both boys and girls.
“In addition to this program, the Arab schools in East Jerusalem have received new and expanded tracks in science and technology. Hebrew language studies have been expanded, and an academic counseling program has been added, too, as well as a college preparatory program at the Hebrew University and other new programs for leadership and empowerment for female students,” said the city.