Students & Parents Say No To “Israelization” of School Curriculum

Monday 19 September in East Jerusalem saw almost 150 Palestinian schools shut their doors as part of a unanimous strike against the Israeli Ministry of Education‘s attempts to censor Palestinian textbooks and enforce an Israeli curriculum. On that day, about 100,000 students did not show up to their schools.

An empty classroom in a school in Silwan, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem Via Global Times

It was not just the students voicing their rejection. At the forefront of this protest were the parents. On Saturday, members of the parent’s committee, a group that represents the parents of Palestinian students in East Jerusalem, organized several protests in various neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. The parents and students gathered, holding up signs and chanting slogans like “no to the distorted curriculum”.

The ongoing disagreement centers around how the curriculum is being altered especially school textbooks. Earlier this month, the Israeli Education Ministry has made orders to remove what they believe to be false claims such as Israel’s prevention of medical treatment from Palestinians and it being responsible for the water crisis in the country. The water crisis suffered by Palestinians was mentioned in a fifth grade textbook called “Science and Life” which the Ministry requested to be removed and altered as well as many other textbooks.

Ahmed Safadi, the media spokesman for the Palestinian Teacher’s Union in Jerusalem voiced how the Ministry of Education also removed important references to Palestine itself.

It deletes all Palestinian symbols, such as the Palestinian flag, and distorts facts, such as using the name of the Temple Mount as a substitute for the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ahmed Safadi Via English Wafa

These changes are nothing new as the Israeli Education Ministry has been attempting to alter the curriculum for years. Back in July, six Palestinian schools had their license revoked as it was said that their textbooks have content that elicits “incitement” against Israel and its military.

Even before then, since the 1967 occupation, there were efforts to “Israelize” the curriculum yet they were met with resistance from the Palestinian people. Yet, the authorities of the occupation did not stop and continued to keep a watchful eye on textbooks that were released by the Palestinian Authority.

Today, parents are concerned that there is a growing number of schools, about 14%, that are replacing the Palestinian Authority’s school curriculum with that of Israel’s. In response, students and parents are continuing their efforts to resist this change.

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