Education in Arab Countries of the Near East: Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon

By Roderic D. Matthews; Matta Akrawi | Go to book overview

Chapter 15
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS FOR ARABS

PUBLIC KINDERGARTENS, found only in girls schools but admitting a few boys under six, give some instruction in reading and arithmetic, but emphasize helping the child to bridge the gap between home and school. The average age is six to seven years. However, some are as young as three and others as old as nine. Much attention is given to group games, stories, free play, and the development of personal habits of cleanliness. The aim of the kindergarten is the adjustment of the child to participation in a social group of his contemporaries. There were 1,860 children in the kindergartens of the Arab public-school system in 1944-45, only 9 of whom were boys.


Public Elementary Schools

The elementary school in Palestine has a seven-year course and in theory admits beginners who are seven years old. However, in practice, children from five to twelve are found in the first grade. Although most children enter directly from the home, some of the boys come from the kuttabs (native religious schools) and some of the girls from the kindergartens. The elementary school is divided into two stages or cycles.

The first stage consists of the first five grades in town schools and the first four grades in village schools. It would be incorrect to assume that villages have only four-grade schools, since almost half of the schools outside of the main towns have five or more grades. The elementary school in its lower five-year section is the vehicle with which the government hopes to stamp out illiteracy. Progress toward the realization of this goal is slow because of inadequate funds. This lower school is at present free, but economically incapable of admitting more than 60 percent of its applicants--a figure that does not take account of children in remote villages who do not apply because there is no school in their locality.1 Out of

____________________
1
Jerome Farrell, "Arab Public Education in Palestine," (Typewritten memorandum dated May 10, 1945); Farrell, Education in Palestine, General Survey, 1936-45 ( Jerusalem: 1945), p. 3.

-239-

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