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ETHIOPIAN IMMIGRATION AND INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS: THE CASE OF ETHIOPIAN ORIGIN ISRAELIS [Abstract ID: 1002-01]
The Ethiopian immigrant community is under-represented in numerous spheres of Israeli life, although in the past few decades, a trend has been developing to acknowledge and legitimize cultural variance among different social groups (Ben-Rafael, 2008). Israelis of Ethiopian origin suffer from discrimination and low socio-economic status (Dayan, 2014). The policy that aims for equality, pluralism, a "common creative space" (Ben Ezer and Bar Lev, 2011) and appropriate representation for different groups has not been implemented to date. This situation has numerous implications for the self-image, social status and collective identity of the involved individuals, as well as for Israeli society in general. Under-representation of teachers and teacher-training students of Ethiopian origin has been on the agenda of Israel's education system and society for many years. The bodies engaged in this issue include the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, teacher-training colleges, and Knesset (Israeli parliament) members. Members of the Jewish Ethiopian Immigrant Community have often pointed out the scarcity of teachers of Ethiopian origin, and the implications of this phenomenon for the education system and its students. The exclusion of members of the Ethiopian immigrant community from public educational work is a lost opportunity to create a multi-cultural and equal social fabric that would respect each of the groups of which society is comprised, and see them as equally valuable. This presentation aims to present the perspective of female educators (the vast majority of students of education are women) of Ethiopian origin regarding this issue, through individual in-depth semi-structured interviews. The research participants were selected because, having completed their training and successfully integrated into their respective workplaces, they were able to point out the obstacles their community members struggle with in order to enter the teaching profession. The participants were also able to pinpoint their specific needs, and propose ways to narrow the gap between teachers of Ethiopian origin and their colleagues. The findings of this research indicate that the situation is particularly complex at three specific points in time: admission as a student, training to be a teacher, and professional integration. This complexity intensifies the challenges faced by school and pre-school teachers of Ethiopian origin. An approach that aspires for equality would support an appropriate and sensitive integration that would enable the involved individuals to realize their personal and social potential. After analysis of the interviews, the presentation will present five major applicative conclusions or recommendations for policy makers and teacher educators, that may help facilitate the integration of teachers of Ethiopian origin in Israel's education system.