Christian Education is Recognized as a Formal Curriculum in High Schools in Palestine!
The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education has decided to include the Christian education curriculum for 12th grade in the general secondary school exam “Tawjihi” starting this year. (Read here more about the “Tawjihi” exam.)
The recognition of the curriculum of Christian education in the general secondary exam “Tawjihi” is the first of its kind, as the curriculum of the Muslim education has been there from the very beginning. This move, made by the Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Sidam, represents Muslim-Christian coexistence in Palestine.
The Christian education book was written in partnership and cooperation between the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and representatives of churches in Palestine, and who have fulfilled their right to review the material from their religious field and is ready to be taught to this year’s high school Christian students!
For more information about this important decision, I interviewed Anton Nassar, the principle of Dar Al Kalema Lutheran School, who is one of our BethBC Biblical Studies graduates and one of the main committee members who worked on developing the Christian education curriculum.
Anton said that the Christian education book has been there since 1999; it was adopted and used by the Christian schools, but without the ministry’s approval. In 2012 there was a big change. The General Secretariat of the Christian Schools in Palestine formed an ecumenical committee that included the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, and the Lutheran Evangelical Church, represented by Anton Nassar. They applied to the Ministry of Education to have formal approval to use the 12th grade Christian education curriculum in their schools.
The committee held a meeting with the Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Sidam, who asked them to prepare the book to fulfill the Ministry’s requirements and specifications. They worked together day and night to develop the book, and to reduce the number of lessons in the book, so as not to put a burden on students of Christian education, considering the pressure of this particular period in the life of the student. They published a final copy and sent it to the Ministry of Education, which in turn gave the book to referees from the Ministry to review. Thus, the Ministry approved the adoption of the book.
On 9/8/2018, the Minister of Education issued a declaration announcing the adoption of the Christian education curriculum in the Tawjihi, for the first time in the history of this exam!
Anton Nassar is delighted with this decision:
“This is a great achievement for the nation and the community, because it represents acceptance and existence. This is a great achievement for the Christian presence in Palestine.”
At Bethlehem Bible College, we are happy with this decision! We are happy that the Palestinian Ministry of Education has recognized the Christian education curriculum as a formal exam for the Christian students in high schools. Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, the Academic Dean at BethBC, said:
“It is a very good move, because the Muslim education curriculum has been certified since the beginning. And it is time to be equal with our Muslim brothers and sisters. The Ministry of Education has always wanted to add the Christian curriculum, but now it is happening with all the efforts the churches exerted together to write a very good one.”
Our students are also very happy with the decision. As I interviewed some of them, they said that this is a big opportunity for them to find jobs when they graduate, as schools will need more Christian education teachers now than before. They see the opportunity in themselves to teach the curriculum, because the college trained them well academically and spiritually, and they believe that they will be part of the change in the lives of high school students!
We are very thankful for our Ministry of Education for this decision. We appreciate the hard work all the churches did together to come up with the curriculum, and we wish the high school students best of luck in their exams. But let us not forget that Christianity is a way of life and a close relationship with our Savior the Lord Jesus and not just a taught curriculum.
Amira is the Communications Coordinator of Bethlehem Bible College. She is a committed Palestinian Christian who has a passion for writing about the intersection of faith and seeking justice for her fellow countrymen. To read more of her writings sign up for Bethlehem Bible College’s monthly newsletter.