The joint learning movement began in Northern Ireland in 2007 and led to a significant turning point in the country’s education system. The movement offers a comprehensive educational path for interaction between the two communities, Protestants and Catholics.  Schools from each community are paired, so that students can learn together while still studying in separate schools that reflect their own respective identities.

Paired classes attend a series of joint academic lessons throughout the year. Some focus on the questions that divide the communities, but the main activities are less contested academic subjects, allowing them to learn together without focusing on their differences.

Inspired by this approach, Shared Learning’s process brings together Jewish and Arab teachers and administrators. They are able to get to know one another, learn to address questions of identity and belonging and take part in trainings focused on the concept of shared learning. After completing the trainings, the teachers lead shared learning trainings bringing together paired classes of Arab and Jewish students. The learning process increases social cohesion by bringing students from both communities together for an activity that benefits all of them academically.

Six schools in the Negev are currently participating in the project. During the two-year program, 7th and 8th graders study English in classes led jointly by one teacher from each community. The program involves 12 sessions: 6 online and 6 in person.

The project is part of a large-scale national pilot in partnership with the Center for Educational Technology (CET) and Beit Berl College.

Veronica Vigdorchik

Director of Arab-Jewish Partnership Programs