Merchavim works to promote encounters and build connections between Arab and Jewish students through the various class subjects taught in the school system. This program includes training courses for hundreds of Arab and Jewish teachers, encounters for thousands of their students and shared study in subjects such as art, English, archaeology, physical education and more.
Merchavim’s Shared Living – The Art of Kulanana initiative is an innovative primary school encounter arts’ project facilitated in cooperation with Israeli Ministry of Education. As the Israeli education system is divided into separate educational streams for Jewish children and Arab children there are very few opportunities for children to learn about other groups, learn about their culture and discover their individual uniqueness. Often, the separation and lack of familiarity leads to fear and feelings of suspicion of other groups. This program is unique as it is presents an opportunity, through creative activities using art, for children learn about the ‘other’ and about themselves. Experiential and creative group art activities provide a safe and enriching environment in which children are able to express themselves sincerely.
The program is anchored by a year-long training program (30-60 hours) for art and homeroom teachers, based on five basic concepts: identity, accessibility, fairness, spaces of agreement, and active shared citizenship, explores the beauty of diversity in art and works on designing an accompanying curriculum for their 4th , 5th and 6th grade classes. Integral parts of the curriculum are museum/gallery encounters, collaborative art projects, and school art exhibits all aimed to assist pupils from diverse groups to learn about one another and learn to respect and appreciate the differences that exist between them. The program is implemented in full collaboration with officials and professional in the Ministry of Education, which provides half the funding for the initiative with the stipulation of Merchavim seeking matching funding.
All encounter programs are run in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Headquarters for Civic Education and Co-existence.