NGOs Protest Planned Reform for Israeli Arab Teachers

Plan hopes to cut surplus in number of Arab teachers in Israel,

Alon Ron

Several social welfare organizations are protesting the Education Ministry’s decision to give Arab students of education in the north about half the budget for Jewish students, in order to reduce the number of Arabs studying education. They asked the ministry to revoke the discriminatory decision, and some may petition the High Court of Justice.

The Merchavim Institute, which works with the ministry in a program to integrate Arab teachers into Jewish schools, wrote on Facebook: “Deciding to budget differentially (for whatever reason) based on a person’s origin and identity is inconceivable. Budgeting could be reduced for all the colleges (both Arab and Jewish) in the north, or could be differential based on the subject taught. It’s certainly possible to find additional solutions to encourage young Arabs in the north to study other subjects.”

But the post continued that “the problem of a surplus of teachers (mainly Arabs, but Jews too) in the north is acute. Those who claim that expanding the program to integrate Arab teachers into Jewish schools will solve the problem are mistaken. Most of the supply is in the north but there are no positions in Jewish schools in the north.” The post asserts that Arab teachers could find suitable jobs in the center of the country.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel told the ministry the proposal is illegal. “There’s no question that it’s the job of the ministry to deal with teacher unemployment. But there are many legal, effective ways other than discriminatory budgeting to deal with high unemployment among Arab teachers.”

Arab teachers and students also voiced outrage at the plan, offering an alternative solution and demanding that Arab teachers be hired in Jewish schools too.

Students and teachers acknowledge that is a surplus of Arab teachers – an estimated 11,000 are unemployed in northern Israel. Nevertheless, they say, the ministry’s proposed “solution,” as reported in Haaretz last week, is worthless.

Instead of figuring out how to get more Arab teachers into Jewish schools – today, Arab teachers work almost exclusively in Arab schools – the ministry is merely imposing an additional burden on a group whose employment prospects are already far less promising than they are for Jews, they said.