Back to Page Authors: Anat Feldman

Keywords: student attitudes regarding religious education, Bedouin Society in Israel, students of education, public academic college

Abstract: The uniqueness and originality of the current study lies in its examination of student attitudes regarding religious education in twenty-first century Israel. The Bedouin society in Israel is a conservative and patriarchal one where women who seek to break the societal barriers are threatened and even murdered by their family members, under the claim that they 'violated the family's honor'. This research seeks to examine the relationship between Bedouin students of education (mostly young women) to the religious education of the children. The research is being conducted in a secular Jewish college in Israel. Achva is a public, state-funded academic college. Most Bedouin study in the School of Education to become teachers. Jewish and Bedouin students study in mixed classes, with the vast majority of the students being Jewish. Most of the college teaching staff is Jewish. This research is quantitative, conducted by means of questionnaires, which were distributed to the classes in two waves, in 2011 and 2016, in order to examine if changes occurred, and what they were if they had. The Bedouin students' questionnaires were in Arabic, inasmuch as many are not fluent in Hebrew, despite its being the college's language of instruction. The questionnaires included many questions on various subjects. Here, I shall refer to only one subject – students of education and their attitude towards religious education. The research findings: Comparison between Bedouin Teaching Students 2011-2016 2011 (n=173) 2016 (n=115) t M s.d. M s.d. (df=286) Childhood in a religious home 4.22 .52 4.44 .63 3.32*** Attitude towards religious education 1.99 .73 1.75 .90 2.54* *p<.05, ***p<.001 scale of 1 to 5 The data clearly indicate that they come from a very religious society. The Bedouin students of education in 2016 had a significantly higher religious family background than those in 2011. What is interesting is that despite coming from religious families, all those questioned had a negative attitude towards religious education. It must be noted that the vast majority of the Bedouin students are the first in their families to study in an academic institution. They are aware of the advantages of academic study, and apparently understand that strict religious education as is customary in their environment does not improve their social and economic situation. The advantages for the female students are clearest. Thanks to academic studies they can choose their spouse, and were not forced to marry a much older man against their will, to be his second or third wife Such information can assist in examining social questions such as the influence of educated Bedouin women on the traditional Bedouin family and society.