JERUSALEM(2000-2017) | GOVERNMENTALITIES OF INFRASTRUCTURE | East Jerusalem Education System as Stronghold for Resistance

Apart from public transportation, the Palestinian education system is another domain whose transformation in function and administration reveal an underlying process of governmentalization. The education system is regarded as both as a stronghold and an instrument for the Palestinians to resist the Israeli ruling apparatus and to preserve their own national identity. Thus, the education system has always been deliberately kept detached from the Israeli administration to ensure the opportunity for East Jerusalem students to pursue further education in schools where Israeli diploma is not accepted. [1]

The education system of the East Jerusalem has two major features that facilitate its disassociation from the Israeli administration and achieved autonomy in operation.[2] Firstly, from the administration point of view, private educational institutions have occupied a large proportion in East Jerusalem. Schools that are owned and managed by private sectors such as the Islamic Waqf Administration, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency and some ecclesiastical schools, are able to escape the control of Israeli administration and operated without the state supervision.[3] Secondly, the Jordanian pedagogy and curriculum plan for the schools were developed by non-Israeli actor: the Palestinian National Authority. Until now, in the formal education system, curricula and matriculation exams are still determined and supervised by Palestinian Ministry of Education while the Israeli agencies are only responsible for regular financing and services.[4]

Education institutions also serve as one of the major strongholds of resistance to Israeli rule. After the occupation in East Jerusalem, national curriculum, which was taught to Palestinian students in Israeli, was enforced by the Israeli administration into Palestinian education system. This measure received immediate resistance in the form of strikes and protests, which were directed and organized by Jordan.[5] Striking teachers were subsidized as well as the substitute education in private institutions, which dramatically led to an increased enrolment in private school while students in public schools were reduced to half. In 1971, only 13 students attended the matriculation exams in public schools while 441 students participated the exams for private ones. [6]

As soon as the Israeli authorities realized their inability to suppress private schools and bring students back to the public sector, previous Jordanian curriculum was reintroduced back to the education system. The Israeli attempts to intervene and control education system led to an unexpected result of a more weakened public sector and almost 60% of students went to private schools by late 1980s.[7] However, both private and public sectors were heavily affected by the urban riots and violent protests of the first Intifada in 1987 as private schools suffered from long suspension due to constant strikes ordered by activists and public schools were brutally taken over by Israeli police. [8]The education system was further overwhelmed by the checkpoints policy and separation mechanism imposed by the Israeli administration after decades of frequent urban violence, increasing deficiencies and dysfunction within the system.


  1. Cheshin, A., Hutman, B., & Melamed, A. (1999). Separate and Unequal: The inside story of Israeli rule in East Jerusalem. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  2. ibid.
  3. Yair, G., & Alayan, S. (2009). Paralysis at the top of a roaring volcano: Israel and the schooling of Palestinian in East Jerusalem. Comparative Education Review, 55(2),235e257.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid.
  6. Benziman, U. (1973). City without wall. Tel Aviv: Schocken Publishing House (Hebrew).
  7. Caplan, J., & Caplan, R. (1980). Arab and Jew in Jerusalem e explorations in community mental health. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  8. Cheshin, A., Hutman, B., & Melamed, A. (1999). Separate and Unequal: The inside story of Israeli rule in East Jerusalem. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

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