Hewar (Arabic for 'dialogue') is a community initiative, run by a group of parents in Haifa who decided to create an educational alternative for Arab children in Israel. After a long struggle, the officially registered school and kindergarten today serve 173 children from age 3 to 8th grade. However, Hewar is the only school in Israel forced to operate without any government funds and is thus under immense financial strain, as it relies solely on parents and community support to cover its costs.
Israel is legally required to provide free education for all children aged 3-17, but the resources allocated to Arab schools and kindergartens are grossly inadequate. This results in chronic classroom overcrowding, poor infrastructure and low level of teaching. Further, the official curriculum dictates a one-sided Zionist narrative, taught by traditional and authoritative methods. To prevent deviations, the Education Ministry and authorities impose tight control on Arab teachers and schools.
The Arab education sector in Israel is in acute need of alternatives, which respect the specific needs of the Arab minority, while also using progressive teaching methods that foster critical thinking, creativity and innovation. Through its unique, holistic approach, Hewar does precisely this. It places the child at the centre, encourages parents to play an active role in the child's education, follows democratic principles and promotes open dialogue; within the school, family and community.
Due to their unique situation - as Palestinians, yet deeply integrated in Israeli society - the Arab minority can play a pivotal role in future solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the young generation must be given space to safely develop their sense of identity, as well as the skills, confidence and creativity required to successfully rise up to future challenges. Hewar believes challenging and transforming the dominant model of education is a crucial step along this way.