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Title: Rereading the British Mandate in Palestine: gender and the urban-rural divide in education
Authors: Jad, Islah 
Keywords: Palestine - Social conditions - British occupation, 1917-1948;Palestine - History of education - British occupation, 1917-1948;Education - Palestine - History;Sex differences in education - Palestine - History
Issue Date: 2007
Abstract: Under Ottoman rule, the relations between native Arabs and Jews in Palestine were based on understanding and respect, as was the case between Muslims and Christians. Shared enrolment of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students in the same schools---either the Jewish Alliance Israelite schools (established in 1882) or in the nizamiyya, the Ottoman public schools first established by the Turkish law of 18692-promoted mutual understanding for a small elite. In contrast, the British Mandate policy in education played a major role in reshaping national, regional, and class and gender identities. It was through education that two separate national entities were developed, the urban/rural division was deepened, class boundaries were rendered unbridgeable, and gender identities were molded to suit the British model. Education was geared to benefit an urban, mostly male elite. Division of public schools along national and linguistic, or simply national, grounds into an Arab public system and a Hebrew public system had its roots in the first formative years of the Mandate.3 The British education department exercised direct and complete control over the Arab public system and indirect and somewhat nominal control over the Jewish system. In the British administration there was a struggle between two tendencies: one insisted on academic subjects geared to educate an elite class, and the other pressed subjects such as agriculture and domestic science to "keep the peasants on the land by teaching their children farming beside basic education." The former tendency won and the latter remained merely experimental. That was reflected in the number of years of education given for town schools (seven years) as opposed to education for village schools (four years).
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