Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information
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Analysis and Evaluation of the New Palestinian Curriculum
Reviewing Palestinian Textbooks and Tolerance Education Program Grades 4 & 9
The Public Affairs Office
US Consulate General
The idea of designing a curriculum that prepares students for the future is not new. After
all, education is not only for the present. Students will be living in a world different from the one
they now occupy, and schools should enable them to deal with that world. Thus, what policymakers
and educators should aspire to do is an education process that is genuinely meaningful to
students, challenging them with problems and ideas that they find both interesting and
intellectually demanding. To achieve this, educators need to equip students with certain types of
knowledge, abilities, life skills and strategies. In addition, they need to provide learners with an
educational setting that enhances a positive attitude towards learning. Among the most important
of these abilities are judgment, critical thinking, collaborative work and service learning.
Educators believe that the best way to prepare students for the future is to focus on the
present in a way that enables them to deal with problems that have more than one correct answer.
The problems that matter most cannot be resolved by formula, algorithm or rule. They require the
exercise of a human capacity that is called judgment that requires the ability to give reasons for
the choices that individuals make.
A second ability that schools need to develop in students is the ability to think critically,
to critique information and ideas and to enjoy exploring what one can do with them. To develop
this ability, students must be presented with information and ideas that are relevant, provocative
and worth exploring and investigating.
Collaboration, in the form of learning to work with others collectively, cooperatively and
in harmony, can make a big difference in students’ lives and experiences. The process of
collaboration is thought to give birth to new ideas and develops social skills that are essential for
The Palestinian education system has made strides in the direction of achieving some of
these goals. The new curriculum is one example of a coordinated effort exerted in that direction.
However, curriculum designers and materials writers, historically, have been more exclusive than
inclusive of the wide range of ethnic and cultural diversity that exists within a particular society,
nation, or region. In the haste to promote harmony and avoid controversy and conflict, they gloss
over controversial and sensitive political and social problems and the realities of racial, ethnic,
national, civil and religious identities. They sometimes romanticize racial, ethnic and religious
relations, and ignore the challenges of coexistence and a regional perspective.
For Palestinian students to be able to compete at the local and regional and levels, more
needs to be done along the path of education reform. In particular, the Palestinian experience
should be, now more than ever, an interaction with the region, including Israel, and the world.
After all, Palestinian students are also going to need to be citizens of this planet and neighbors of
the State of Israel. This means that new curricula need to take a look at increasing students’
regional and global knowledge. It will be their world.
In addition, and in spite of the obstacles, it would be unwise for the Palestinian education
system, curriculum being an integral part of it, not to have as its central mission educating the
young in the democratic ideals of humankind, the freedoms and responsibilities of a democratic
society, and the civil and civic understandings and dispositions necessary to democratic
citizenship. Palestinian education should encourage pluralism and should prepare their pupils to
know themselves as well as their neighbors.