Monday, 25 November 2013

Israel's Arab student revolution


One Academic's Efforts Aid Arab Students Across Israel

Yosef Jabareen is now an assistant professor of architecture and urban planning at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. His efforts there to help Arab students enroll and succeed have inspired a nationwide program. (Oded Bality, AP)

By Matthew Kalman
Haifa, Israel

A year after Yosef Jabareen graduated from college, the only work he could find was as a hotel waiter or as a night watchman at a Jewish cemetery. Despite having a degree in mechanical engineering from the prestigious Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, he began to suspect that he had little chance of finding work in his field because he was an Arab.

After switching disciplines and earning advanced degrees from Harvard and the Technion, Mr. Jabareen is now an assistant professor of architecture and urban planning at his alma mater here.

He is also a key figure in an effort to make sure that other Israelis of Arab descent get access to educational opportunities and don't face the type of discrimination he did.

Israel recently started a $170-million program designed to end what its education minister has described as the "moral stain" of chronic lack of investment in the educational development of the country's 1.6-million-strong Arab minority. Arabs make up more than 20 percent of Israel's population, but in 2011-12 they were just 12.5 percent of the country's undergraduates, 4.5 percent of Ph.D. students, and just 2 percent of the faculty members at Israeli colleges, according to Israel's Council for Higher Education.

The new program is based in part on what Mr. Jabareen has done at the Technion, which is often referred to as Israel's MIT.


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