Merchavim’s program for the integration of Arab teachers made possible the recruitment of Arab teachers in the agricultural institute in Ein Shemer, and brought about a unique connection between teachers and students of different backgrounds.
When Noam Geva, the principal at the “Ecological Greenhouse” agricultural institute in Ein Shemer, found Merchavim’s program for the integration of Arab teachers online, he immediately identified the connection with his and his school’s approach to diversity. “We are a unique educational institution, one that looks for a special, qualified teaching staff,” says Geva about the Institute, which teaches subjects including agriculture of the future, hydroponics, robotics, superfoods and water purification. Geva adds: “The Institute works in a diverse environment: The Alfei Menashe municipality has a diverse approach that promotes coexistence between Arabs and Jews and is supervised by the regional education council (lead by Dr. Shadad Abu-Ful). This is an area where Jewish and Arab students work in cooperation, and so it’s especially important for the teaching staff to reflect this diversity.”
Through the program Geva was able to recruit the teachers Saja Veted and Sanaa Abu-Much a year ago. Today Saja Veted leads the “Growing Together” program, a bilingual program where Jewish and Arab students work together on solving environmental challenges through robotics.
“The farm is a very special place, I enjoy every day there, every project,” says Saja Veted. “Friendships form there alongside advanced work on environmental technology. For example, in my program there are two boys named Omri – one Jewish and one Arab – today they are good friends, in class and outside of class.”
“The added value the Arab teachers bring with them is tremendous,” explains Noam Geva. “The cultural knowledge in the Arab community in everything to do with medicinal herbs and their use in medicine, for example, adds an extra layer of richness to learning. In addition, both the Arab teachers and students bring with them different learning styles – discipline, respect for the teacher, a motivation to excellence – the high ambition of the Arab students is inspiring.” Today 800 students study at the farm, of which 300 are Arab students.
The Program for the integration of Arab teachers – which is led by the Israeli Ministry of Education, together with the Office for Social Equality and the Merchavim Institute – advances the employment of Arab teachers who are not currently employed, in Jewish schools, and so creates social and cultural diversity in Israel’s education system. The program’s team identifies qualified teachers and connects them with school principals. Principals get additional teaching hours from the Ministry of Education, and both the school and teachers receive guidance and support from Merchavim.
“The Program’s framework provides a supportive community for us teachers,” explains Saja Veted. “In addition to the support of the program’s team, we have a whatsapp group of teachers from throughout Israel. There we share ideas and experiences and get advice from one another. For example recently we shared different activities we’re doing around the holidays.”
Noam Geva sums up the experience of his school with the program with an allegory from the world of nature: “Diversity builds resilience. For us too, when the teaching team is more diverse, this improves all of our abilities – teachers and students both – to reach greater academic achievements and better social cohesion.”
For more information about the program for the integration of Arab teachers visit the program page on the Merchavim website.