The Follow Up Committee on Arab Education
Established in 1984 by the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Localities, the Follow Up Committee on Arab Education (FUCAE) is a professional body representing the Palestinian minority in Israel in all matters related to education.
The FUCAE’s Board has 23 members and includes elected public figures (Arab Knesset members in the Knesset’s Education Committee and local municipality mayors), heads of Education Departments in local municipalities, representatives of teachers’ associations and unions, representatives of the National Union of Arab Parents, representatives of the National Union of University Students, school principals, academics, educators, directors of CSOs as well as delegates of organizations active in the area of Arab education. The bulk of FUCAE’s projects are implemented by its Board members and other academics, experts and educators on a voluntary basis.
Education is a basic human right and a significant factor in developing communities, ensuring socio-economic mobility and engendering meaningful participation in the public sphere. In Israel, the Arab educational system suffers from multiple shortfalls: Inequality in resources: according to official Knesset Education Committee data, Arab students are allocated, on average, 75% of the budget that is allocated to Jewish students. This underfunding is reflected in many areas, including large class sizes, poor infrastructure and facilities, and shortage of classrooms. Inequalities in quality of education: recent figures regarding matriculation and academic performance show a maintained disparity in performance levels between Arab and Jewish students.
Poor and inadequate curricula: a study carried out by the FUCAE revealed that the educational policy in Arab schools is distinctively Jewish in perspective; content and delivery lack sensitivity to Palestinians’ distinct identity, culture, history and heritage. Educational content and programming in Arab schools are often not originals, but rather copies of those in Jewish schools – they do not stem from the culture and worries of the Palestinian minority. Lack of education leading to a clear sense of identity and affiliation, increases the alienation of the Arab student towards school. This, in turn, has negative consequences on the capacity of schools to deal with the needs and challenges that arise within Arab society. Autonomy and self-determination: International law on education and the rights of minorities recognizes the right to preserve, develop and shape collective identity—a right that amounts to the self-administration of education.
In Israel, curricula are designed by the Ministry of Education (MoE), with few to no Arab educators given adequate influence over their development. Poor and inadequate training: Arab teaching colleges have failed to meaningfully reflect Arab- Palestinian identity, nor do they emphasize the unique role of Arab teachers as members of a minority that struggles to attain recognition and inclusion in a divided society.
Goals and Objectives
The FUCAE’s goal is to improve Arab education in Israel for the Palestinian minority. Its objectives are:
✓ To equate Arab education to Jewish education in resources and quality;
✓ To achieve autonomy of Arab education within the Israeli school system;
✓ To address the needs of Arab Palestinians in Israel as a national collective with its specific history, culture and identity;
✓ To respond to specific social challenges (such as the issue of violence within Palestinian society in Israel).
Target Group and Stakeholders
✓ Over 550,000 Arab students (25% of all students in Israel) from early childhood to high school.
✓ Over 50,000 Arab students in universities and colleges in Israel and another 25,000 abroad.
✓ 43,000 Arab teachers (early age to high school).
✓ Over 3,000 Arab schools.
✓ Public institutions (MoE and its departments, the Knesset’s Education Committee, the Council for Higher Education and more).
✓ Education departments in local municipalities, schools, parents, academics, educators and more.
✓ Forums, CSOs, human rights groups, research centers, legal clinics and more.
It is our belief that education in a divided society should be delivered in three tiers: (1) learning about one’s own ethnic culture and heritage, (2) learning about the other group and (3) learning shared democratic values. The Israeli education system in this sense is distinctly ethno-centric; the Jewish majority learns about itself, while no Palestinian narrative nor shared citizenship values have been part of any curriculum. If the notion of equal citizenship is to be taken seriously, we must work to incorporate all three of these tiers into the educational systems of Jews and Arabs alike. Moreover, in light of the ongoing and systematic discrimination against the Arab population since the establishment of Israel, the state should adopt a policy of affirmative action in the distribution of resources in order to close the gaps and vouch for equality.
The FUCAE is active in advocacy for policy change, as well as in grassroots actions within the Arab society in order to empower educators, education departments in local municipalities, parents’ unions and Arab civil society in all matters related to education. Its main strategies are:
✓ Monitoring the performance and management of the Arab educational system at all levels.
✓ Conducting research and developing curricula specific to the Arab educational system.
✓ Engaging in public activity; raising awareness to the importance of quality Arab education, building coalitions and collaborations and working towards greater involvement of all stakeholders.
✓ Developing Arab educational and pedagogic leadership in local authorities, academia, and civil society.
✓ Training educational professionals to be more efficient and to better respond to the needs of Arab education.
✓ The Arab Pedagogical Council (APC), a professional framework that embodies the collective right of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel to autonomous administration of its own pedagogic-cultural issues. The council works directly with Arab schools to formulate a professional pedagogical vision for the future of education at all decision-
making levels, a vision that offers alternatives to formal Jewish educational policy; ✓ English Access Microscholarship program, an interactive program aiming to support students with low socioeconomic background reach 4 units in the English Bagrut exams, by developing their English language skills and introducing them to American history and culture; ✓ Arabic Language and Identity year, in cooperation with The National Committee of the Heads of Arab Localities, the forum of heads of education departments in local municipalities, the National Committee of Arab Parents, Arab educational institutions and local Arab CSOs.
This project aims to promote, strengthen and raise the status and profile of the Arabic language and identity in schools, local authorities, institutions, among the residents in the Arab towns and villages, and in the public sphere in Israel;
✓ Higher Education vision, shaping a future vision for quality higher education for the Arab- Palestinian minority in Israel, a vision which will serve as guide for all actors engaging in the advancement of higher education among Arabs.
✓ Family Roots Project, a documentation, research and educational project in which school teachers send students on a learning journey about their roots and their families’ personal stories, with special emphasis on the Nakba.
The individual stories are to be collected in one platform, which will present the collective story and narrative of the Palestinian people in Israel;
✓ Educational Classroom Kits and Activities for cultural, heritage and national identity education to consolidate and strengthen identity affiliation and revive collective memory;
✓ Establishing Educational Forms, Continue working to framing teachers, professionals and officials and establishing forums such as: directors of education departments in local authorities, teachers of civil education, history teachers, and directors of youth departments in local authorities.
✓ Follow-up and Advocacy project on the Arab education system’s shortages, needs and demands;
✓ Networking, media campaigns, conferences, educational days, research and position papers.
✓ A vision, strategic plan and objectives of Arab education.
✓ Projects and programs to promote national and cultural identity, the Palestinian historical
narrative, the Arabic language and the revival of collective memory.
✓ Demands and follow-up on ministerial reform plans for Arab education, and a local and
international advocacy to achieve demands.
✓ The establishment of the Arab Educational Council to deal with the topics: determining educational policies and the development of goals and curricula as well as programs of education and content, books and teaching materials.
✓ Critical studies of curriculum and textbooks, and the development of complementary and alternative content.
✓ The Early Childhood Education law, free education for children 3 – 4 years old.
✓ The Five –Year Plan for the Advancement of the Arab Education System; Government Program for Economic Development of Arab Society in the Field of Education, 2016 – 2020 (Government Decision No. 922). ✓ In partnership with the MoE, development of a program dealing with violence in Arab schools.
✓ The law of special education and the law of integration and provision of frameworks and
services of supportive and therapeutic medicine. ✓ Learning Disabilities: Developing new professional diagnostic tools suitable for Arab students, and developing remedial tools and programs by Arab academics, specialists and professionals. ✓ Infrastructure and the construction of classrooms and kindergartens, through government
decisions and five-year plans to fill the huge shortfall. ✓ Differential funding for Arab education and students. ✓ Prevent the intervention of the General Intelligence Service (GSS) in the appointments of
principals and school teachers in the Arab educational system. ✓ Provide security guards and security for schools and educational institutions. ✓ Increase the jobs of attendance officers, educational counselors and psychologists to deal
with and lessen the phenomenon of school dropouts. ✓ Reduce overcrowding in schools and reduce the number of students in classes. ✓ Informational education: A five-year plan was developed and NIS 650 million was allocated
for the years 2016 – 2020. ✓ The establishment of a professional and representative staff of the committee, the Heads of Arab Localities and representatives of civil society organizations to follow up on the five- year plan in accordance with government decision 922. ✓ In cooperation with the MoE, develop a plan for the growth of technological education in the Arab education system, including opening of new technological schools and new technological classes in existing schools. ✓ In cooperation with the MoE, develop a plan for differential budgeting to close gaps in Arab
high schools. ✓ Promotion of a national five-year plan with the Prime Minister’s office and the MoE to build
4,500 new classrooms in the Arab education system. ✓ Establish professional forums for Arab teachers (history and civic education) and for heads
of education departments in local municipalities. ✓ Develop and publish research, survey and position papers on various topics. ✓ Develop executive projects for educational institutions, teachers and professionals: combating violence, pluralism and acceptance of the other, Arabic language and identity, reviving the collective memory, role and participation of parents in the educational process. ✓ Participate and contribute to many coalitions, working groups and steering committees on
various topics. ✓ Establishment of a professional committee to work on a strategic vision and needs of higher education for Palestinian society in Israel.