The Knesset Education Committee discussed on Wednesday a motion for the agenda by MK Masud Ganaim (Joint List) on the evaluation methods that are used to assign Arab teachers to schools across the country.

During the meeting it was revealed that the Education Ministry employs an evaluation method in order to recruit the top candidates to the education system. Sonya Peretz, director of the ministry`s personnel department, said 30 percent of Arab teachers who apply for jobs are assigned to schools. According to her, each year there are some 18,000 Arab teachers who seek jobs. Among them, some 12,000 are new to the profession.

”Our main goal is to absorb the best teachers, and therefore we came up with a method which gives each candidate a score,” she told the committee. ”The candidates know their place on the list of teachers who are waiting for assignments, and they may also appeal their scores. About 99 percent of the appeals are rejected in court, but we learn from each appeal that is filed, draw conclusions and improve.”

The method, Peretz explained, is meant to prevent the assignment of teachers for unprofessional reasons.

MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint List) supported the system but called to balance supply and demand and direct students to professions that are in high demand. She requested that the Education Ministry tell the candidates when they are due to get a teaching job, so as not to raise among them false expectations that will lead, after a long waiting period, to frustration and despair. Zoabi also called on the Education Ministry to be committed to assigning Arab teachers to the Jewish sector. ”During [former Education Minister Shai] Piron`s term there was a plan to absorb Arab teachers in Jewish schools, but there was no real commitment on the part of the Education Ministry,” she said.

Teachers` Union representative Ziyad Majadlah said the issue of supply and demand should be resolved by adding more classes in the Arab sector, directing more pension quotas to the Arab sector and assigning more quality Arab math and science teachers to the Jewish sector.

Abdullah Khatib, Director of Arab Education in the Ministry of Education said the ministry wants to open an academic college that focuses on professions that are in high demand in the Arab sector, such as physical education and arts-related professions, ”but we do not have any candidates in these fields. On the other hand, there are plenty of special education and kindergarten teachers.” He further told the committee that the Education Ministry was formulating a five-year plan to build additional classrooms in the Arab sector. According to Khatib, 220 Arab teachers are currently employed by educational institutions in the Jewish sector.

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) noted that only 9.5 percent of civil servants in Israel are Arabs, adding ”their representation in the civil service must increase; this way, less [Arabs] will study teaching because they will know there are other jobs out there.”

Education Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi (Shas) called on the Education Ministry and the Council for Higher Education to prepare a strategic plan aimed at resolving the problem of excess demand for teaching positions and encouraging Arabs to learn other professions.