The Minister of Education and State Comptroller lead a delegation of visitors to our Jerusalem school on January 17th, 2017. Minister Bennet and Comptroller Shapira were joined by the CEO of the Comptroller office, the CEO of the Ministry of Education, the Director of the Jerusalem Education Authority, school supervisors and Jerusalem Education Authority representatives.
The visit took place on the heels of a report published by the comptroller three months ago criticizing lack of education promoting shared living and preventing racism in the Israeli school system. The delegation came to learn from Hand in Hand's success in promoting inclusion, mutual respect, and shared living, which was recognized in the report. This visit from the Minister a signals hope that the Ministry of Education will take more responsibility for bilingual education.
The visit began with a meeting with the school principals, Nadia Kinani and Arik Saporta, Hand in Hand CEO Shuli Dichter, along with two 5th grade students, Rebecca and Kuds. The girls told the minister about their experience studying in the school. When he asked them what they would recommend that he do in the government, they answered: “we need people to meet and accept others who are different from them, with different ideas, whether they are Arab or Jewish.” The discussion with the principals also touched on complex topics that emerge from the consistant Arab-Jewish dialogue in the school and community.
From there the visitors continued to a 5th grade religious and cultural heritage class. As always, the class was taught by three teachers: Ulfat Salman, Maggie Adika, and Nellie Ibrahim, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. Each teacher teaches the students the same topic from their religion’s perspective. After this, the Minister continued to a 4th grade math class, where they saw a bilingual class taught by Neema Abu Dalu. The minister challenged the kids with some math questions – he asked them: “Is it better to cut a pizza into four eighths or intwo two quarters? They didn’t fall for the trap… they said – “it’s the same thing!” This year, the elementary school students in the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School received the highest grades in math city-wide.
As the principals walked our guests out, the Minister asked Arik and Nadia “What do we have to do to defeat racism?”
“We need to create real and daily meaningful interactions,” they answered, “take, for example, the class on religious and cultural heritage. The students learn together about their own religion, as well as the religions of their classmates. When you learn about the other together, racism disappears on its own. We don’t need to ‘deal with racism.’ Real and daily encounters with the “other” lead us straight to fairness and equality.”