A Jerusalem-based research center that has critiqued intolerance toward Jews in Arab textbooks said on Monday that it will help develop a curriculum for young asylum-seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos.
The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) will partner with the International School of Peace (ISOP) as it teaches some 400 students — ages 5 to 16 — subjects including English, math, and language skills in their mother tongue, whether Arabic, Persian, or French.
The school is run by members of Israel’s socialist-Zionist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, in partnership with its Israeli-Arab sister group, Ajyal. Staff members hail from Israel, Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan, and some are asylum-seekers themselves.
“The School for Peace is a remarkable place, established by a group of extraordinary young Israelis,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said in a statement. “Most of the children at the school have endured the horrors of war, a dangerous sea crossing where many perished and live in very difficult conditions … The school brings them joy.”
In a recently-released report, the UK-based group Refugee Rights Europe estimated that Lesbos currently hosts around “8,000 refugees and displaced people.”
The study found that asylum-seekers on the island — the majority of whom live in its largest camp, Moria — face the risk of violence and arbitrary detention, limited health resources, subpar living conditions, and insufficient access to food and water. Nearly 35% of minors who participated in the study said they did not have access to any form of education.
“Many of these young refugees lost years of formal education during the Syrian civil war and in other conflicts and have not been integrated into the Greek educational system,” IMPACT-se said.
The group has previously carried out research on the current Syrian curriculum, maintaining that it “does not provide a balanced worldview, avoids respect for the Other, and professes an ideology that is exclusionary, militaristic and authoritarian.”
“It perpetuates an environment of intolerance and a stress on radical martial heroism conjoined with pan-Arab nationalistic ambitions,” wherein “Jews and Israel are demonized,” it added.
Arguing that curricula were “key to achieving tolerant and open-minded societies of the future,” IMPACT-se said it aimed to “supplant the hate education in the Syrian curriculum with positive virtues of tolerance, peace and respect for the Other, ensuring that students at the school will receive education grounded in the values of peace.”