The new school year in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is opening under the banner “The Year of Sovereignty over Education in Jerusalem,” as part of its effort to prevent the introduction of the Israeli education program to schools in the east of the city.
The PA Ministry of Education said in a statement that the education system will do everything necessary to “protect the Palestinian curriculum from Israeli influences and historical distortions in eastern Jerusalem and in general.”
As part of the PA’s protest against Israel’s efforts to introduce the Israeli curriculum, dozens of parents from the Al Abrahamiya College in the east of the city held a protest rally, during which they announced that they would refuse to teach the “distorted” Israeli curriculum, and distributed the PA textbooks that the teachers will teach at the school.
This comes after the Israeli Ministry of Education recently threatened to cancel the licenses of six schools in the east of the city that teach the PA’s curriculum.
Dozens of parents stood at the entrance to the college while the students received the textbooks on behalf of the PA Ministry of Education, and announced practical measures against the Israeli intention to teach their children the “distorted curriculum”, from which, according to them, important lessons and chapters are missing along with the introduction of alternative study content.
Waal Abu Da’baat, a member of the parents’ council at the college, told the media, that “this is a step that is a clear opposition to the distorted curriculum in occupied Jerusalem. The Palestinian and Jerusalem identity will not disappear or die. From Jerusalem to Jenin to Gaza, we all carry this message, and it is our natural right that our children learn the Palestinian history”.
Parents’ committees in eastern Jerusalem claim that “Israel is working to erase the Palestinian identity” while introducing Israeli textbooks that are missing chapters dealing with so-called refugees and the “right of return.” In the eastern part of the city, they claim that with the opening of the new school year, the Israeli Ministry of Education sent warning letters to the principals of the schools in Jerusalem and demanded that they not teach the PA program.
The parents’ committee at the college claims that Israel has removed the PLO flag and national symbols from the books it is introducing into Arab schools in the city and has threatened several principals that the schools will be closed if they teach the PA content.
The preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and head of the Supreme Muslim Council, Akramah Tsabari warned against “the neglect of Palestinian curricula” in the city and called on parents to be vigilant about the curriculum their children are exposed to.
The PA Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs also saluted the position of the parents and students regarding the struggle over the textbooks.
The PA Ministry of Education claims that the number of students in eastern Jerusalem this year is approximately 98,428 students, of which 45,500 students will study in 146 schools that teach the PA curriculum. The municipality’s data for 2021 shows that over 13,000 Arab students will study the Israeli curriculum under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, compared to 11,000 students in 2020 and only about 5,000 in 2017, which is an impressive increase of 160%.
According to research by the Jerusalem Institute, in 2018, 92% of students studied according to the PA program, whereas today 14.7% of the students study according to the Israeli curriculum.
The proportion of students in the Israeli program in first grade increased from 6.5% in 2018 to 16.5% today. The rate of those eligible for Israeli matriculation increased from 19% to 27%. The number of students in technological education, which is almost non-existent in the PA program, increased from 1,950 to 2,499 students, and the rate of those entitled to a technological certificate increased from 37% to 51%.
About 1,385,000 students will study in schools in the PA, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem this year. Of these students, 911,100 students will study in 2,333 government schools, and another 339,100 students will study in 375 UNRWA schools. 134,800 students will attend 484 private schools this year.
The number of teachers this year will be 73,900 teachers, of which 52,400 are in government schools, 11,200 in UNRA schools and 10,300 in private schools.