The Jerusalem Municipality marked one year since the launch of a five-year plan to improve the lives of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods and unify the capital, including an investment of 2 billion shekels ($560 million). During the ceremony, Mayor Moshe Lion explained that this year over 100 million of that amount has already been invested in projects in the eastern neighborhoods of the capital.
“I am happy and proud to conclude this year of successful cooperation,” Lion, the first mayor of Jerusalem of Sephardi descent, said. “The Jerusalem Municipality and the government ministries made a courageous decision together to bring about a dramatic and unprecedented change in the eastern Jerusalem school system, which has been neglected for nearly 50 years,” he stated. “Eastern Jerusalem students deserve an excellent education and it is our duty and mission to achieve this goal. The achievements we have seen tonight truly paint a picture of hope,” he added.
The goal of the five-year plan approved by the Israeli government is to improve the quality of life and environs for residents of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and to strengthen the integration of East Jerusalem residents into the Israeli society and economy in the capital.
Emphasis is on improving the quality of education in Jerusalem’s eastern neighborhoods, while encouraging the Israeli curriculum in schools. According to the government statement, the following educational goals for Jerusalem’s Arab children are defined as:
Over the next five years, 80 new first grade classes and 100 new primary education schoolrooms will be added, and all will be taught in accordance with the Israeli curriculum coordinated and supervised by the Ministry of Education.
The program plans to reduce the rate students dropping out of high school. Arab students in grades 9-12 in eastern Jerusalem are dropping out of high school at a rate of almost 30 percent.
This year already 300 Arab students from eastern Jerusalem completed their first year of studies at the Hebrew University. New classrooms were built and older ones renovated and equipped with computer labs and computerization of classrooms. The first conservatory in eastern Jerusalem was opened, as well as an entrepreneurship center.
In addition, new infrastructure and public transportation services are being developed, as well as the construction of sports fields.