On Friday, London-based NIFI co chair, Steven Jaffe, attended an inspirational event in Camden about the work of Shared Education in Northern Ireland and the possibilities to develop similar schemes in Israel.
Entitled “Building Bridges through school collaboration” the London event followed a conference in Belfast attended by delegates from Israel, Macedonia and Mexico.
Speaking in Camden was the Belfast conference organiser, Prof Tony Gallagher, pro vice Chancellor at Queen’s University, Belfast. Tony’s work has taken him to the Middle East to collaborate with Israeli and Palestinian educators. Alongside him was Dr Shany Payes of the Nazareth Academic Institute, who has recently completed a research paper on behalf of the Hand in Hand bilingual schools in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Jaffa.
Those attending included senior educationalists from the Jewish community in the UK and members of the Task Force which looks at equality and integration issues relating to the Arab citizens of Israel.
Although shared education is much more developed in Northern Ireland than currently in Israel, Shany was able to point to important pilot schemes in the Tel Aviv area and cooperation between the Jewish Gordon school and the Arab Ajyal school which teach respectively in the Hebrew Zionist ethos and Palestinian Arabic one.
Prof Gallagher’s presentation made the point that Sharing between schools was about values as well as resources, and should aim to achieve better educational results and reduced costs, as well as impact on communal, ethnic and political divisions – in order to get the biggest “buy-in” possible.
Dr Payes visit to Northern Ireland was assisted by the British Council.
Steven Jaffe said: “I came away knowing a lot more about the Shared education movement in Northern Ireland as well as what is happening in Israel. I am proud to see a Northern Ireland initiative inspiring hope and progress towards a brighter future for young people and their families in the Middle East. It is excellent to see a specialist like Prof Gallagher providing guidance and expertise to his counterparts in Israel and the Palestinian authority”.
“At the event I sat beside Bob Niven, adviser to “Alfanar”, a new Arab employment initiative. Bob had been a consultant regarding the twinning of the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland with its Israeli counterpart – so we were able to discuss another positive and practical initiative between Northern Ireland and Israel”.
Thanks to the UK Task Force for organising the event. For more info: http://uktaskforce.org/about-us/