University Encourages Arab Women Students


The University in December awarded six Arab women graduate students full-tuition grants for excellence in studies. The awards were the first to be presented under a new incentive program, Advancement of Female Leadership in the Israeli Arab Community, administered by the University’s Jewish-Arab Center and financed by the German Friends of Haifa University.

The award recipients, four of whom live in Nazareth, study in six different departments in the University. The two others reside in Akko (Acre) and a village near Afula. Two are married.

Most are working on writing a research thesis, and all engage in activities of benefit to their communities. The extra-curricular component was, in addition to high grades, one of the criteria for receiving a grant.

Prof. Amatzia Baram, an internationally known expert on Iraq who heads the center, commented, “Arab women find it difficult to advance to post-graduate work though they constitute 50 percent of undergraduate Arab students at Haifa.” There were historical and sociological reasons for the paucity of Israeli Arab women in graduate school programs, he added.

As Prof. Manfred Lahnstein, who heads the German Friends organization, remarked, there was a need to devise a grant program for post B.A. studies among Israeli Arab women. He had successfully raised funds toward this end among people who, he said, had never given money to any Israeli cause. Foremost among these donors were Werner Otto, who started perhaps the world’s largest direct-sales company, and the port of Hamburg.

Lahnstein is also deputy chairman of the University’s Board of Governors and had recently flown to Israel to take part in a meeting of the institution’s Executive Committee as well as to make the presentations.

Pointing to himself as an example, he related how his father had been the first in his family to attend a university. There was a need to break tradition, he said, alluding to the Arab community’s reluctance to allow women to continue on to graduate studies.

He expressed hope that the Arab women’s scholarship project would serve as an example for establishing similar programs to promote graduate education among other sectors of the Israeli population. As an example, he pointed to the need for such incentives in the Ethiopian community.

The six graduate students who received grants worth NIS 15,000 apiece were

*Zvidat Hanan, 25, of Acre who is studying for her Master’s in mathematics and computer sciences. In addition to being a teaching assistant in the department, she teaches in a primary school and guided a rehabilitation project in math in her hometown. Her research deals with applications of models of computerized vision.

*Haula Zuabi, 32, of Sulam, a village near Afula by the Jezreel Valley, is studying toward an M.A. in the School of Social Work. She has directed four “clubs” for children from broken families and works with children with minor retardation handicaps. An active feminist, she is going to conduct research on an aspect of women’s space.

*Najra Zarubi, 24, of Nazareth is pursuing an M.A. in educational management and plans to research the subject in Arab schools in Israel. She works as instructor in a children’s center to cultivate leadership among mothers and also in an institution for problem girls.

*Arin Salame, 32, of Nazareth is married and is a teaching assistant in the University’s Dept. of Arabic Language and Literature. Her research concerns the development of Gnosis in Muslim mysticism. She wants to continue to do a doctorate, investigating some aspect of Muslim mysticism.

*Nisrin Mazawi, 25, of Nazareth studies in the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, which is a graduate-level department only. She is investigating the water quality of certain streams and wadis, in particular checking for two groups of carcinogens that do not break up in sediments.

*Marian Atamla, 25, of Nazareth is married and studying for her M.A. in the Dept. of Middle East History. Her research covers both history and archeology: she is studying jewelry dating to the Mamluk period that came from recent archeological finds. She hopes eventually to do a Ph.D. in this area.

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