Students in Arabic-language high schools who submit a final paper as part of their matriculation exams may write the report in Arabic, but the Education Ministry requires a research proposal that is written in Hebrew.
A final paper is equivalent to a 5-point matriculation exam and can be written in a variety of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, exact sciences and life sciences.
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The paper is written under the guidance of an academic advisor at the school instead of a matriculation (“bagrut”) exam in a subject given at the school or in a subject in which the student has done independent study.
Of 1,222 final papers submitted in the 2019-20 school year, 342 were written by Arabic-speaking students, including 22 Bedouin and seven Druze students.
Samira Namala, a junior at Haifa’s Al Mutanabbi-Shizaf High School, wants to write a final thesis for a comparative literature class she is taking on women’s literature in Arabic.
“I wrote a research proposal in which I provided details about the writers I want to present in the paper, and articles that I’ve read on the subject,” Namala says.
“From the first moment I knew that I wanted to write a final paper in Arabic – it’s my mother tongue. Now the Education Ministry is demanding that the proposal be written in Hebrew, because the woman who reads the research proposal doesn’t know Arabic. Let the Education Ministry solve that problem,” Namala says.
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Education Ministry documents describe the final paper as a unique project that enables outstanding students to learn in a meaningful way and to develop high-level academic skills, calling it a “lighthouse for meaningful learning.”
The preparation of the paper is based on the principles of authentic learning, in that it enables independent handling of an in-depth and challenging learning task and engaging in an issue that goes beyond what is studied in school and in the curriculum and the testing.
In preparing the paper the student relies on up-to-date scientific knowledge, and scientific research and work methods. This is done with the accompaniment and guidance of researchers and scientists.
In a written response, the Education Ministry said that students in Israel’s Arab community submit research proposals for their final papers in both Hebrew and Arabic, “and they are given a choice as to whether they will submit the paper [itself’] in Hebrew or in Arabic. The proposal is up to two only pages in length,” the statement said.