Arabic classes in Israeli schools

Israeli schoolchildren are to be taught Arabic as part of a new education programme designed to promote tolerance.

From the fifth grade children Haifa and around the north of Israel will learn to speak, read and write the language as of the new school year.

Officials plan to expand the scheme across the whole country.

The classes, to be taught mostly by Arab teachers, will be compulsory at 170 public and religious schools.

Arabic is already taught by more than 1,000 Jewish teachers in Israel.

Dr Shlomo Alon, from Israel’s education ministry, said: "Arabic is an official language in this state and this is how it should be.

"Studying Arabic will convey a message of acceptance."

As the JC reported last week, Arabic classes have also been planned for children in Jewish schools in the West Bank.

The mayor of Efrat, a town south-west of Jerusalem, has ordered schools to run three hours of Arabic lessons every week.

Last updated: 2:06pm, August 24 2010