Informed by the most up-to-date statistics, the paper provides an overview of the status of education among Palestinians in Israel. Starting from the Nakba, the paper reviews historical developments of the context of education and transformations that accompanied paradigmatic changes throughout the region. It also pays particular attention to structural and cultural problems that impede the development of the education sector.
The paper shows that education is affected by the current context of deep-rooted discrimination, which reflects on the opportunities and options available to Palestinians. It also examines how Palestinians can use the already few opportunities they can access. Sometimes, limited opportunities are more a result of Israeli considerations than taking into account the needs of the indigenous Palestinian minority.
The paper presents data on the percentage of students at Israeli universities, including concurrent changes, gender, types of majors and relevance to the labour market. It also addresses the inclination to joint universities in the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 and Jordan, highlighting the options and experience these universities offer to students.
In the introduction to the paper:
In Israel, Palestinian higher education is developing in the absence of a Palestinian Arab university, but also in the context of Israeli universities. Naturally, these universities contribute to developing the Israeli society in tandem with the Zionist perspective of development, which embraces the official narrative of the State and the Jewish group. Along this vein, Israeli universities do not impart to Palestinian students national values, love of land, or values of right citizenship. Palestinian students experience a state of estrangement, and mostly conflict with, Israeli universities. As an institution and a cultural community, Israeli universities harbour Jewish professors, students, teaching courses, educational tours and scientific research. For Arab students, the university serves as a station and point of departure in the process of social mobility. It is an agent for individual modernisation, which does not necessarily reflect on subsequent modernisation of the Arab community.
Modernisation is limited to an individual scope. Hence, the Arab academic and scientific potential in Israel has not turned into collective resources. Many academics have engaged and identified with the existing social structures.
Palestinian students in Israel feel alienated in their relations with Israeli universities. The latter serve as one link in the chain of discrimination against Palestinian students. They experience discrimination on several levels, including admission to universities, student hostels, obedience tribunals, dismissal, scholarships and various facilities. In addition to restricted freedom of expression, Palestinian students are subject to a hostile behaviour throughout student organisations. They are also challenged by structural obstacles to joining universities, academic staff and scientific research. Palestinian students in Israel only feel integrated with Israeli universities at one point only, namely when they graduate and receive their university degrees. Palestinian students’ culture and environment has affected their interaction with the cultural landscape at Israeli universities as well as their educational perceptions. This culture and environment has been “individualised”, focusing primarily on personal achievements and individual development and progress.