chapter  8
33 Pages

INTEGRATION AND ATTITUDES

One of the central goals of the educational Reform program in Israeli education was to increase social integration between children from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The assumption of this program was that direct contact in the school between pupils from different ethnic groups will reduce prejudice and improve intergroup relations. It is worth noting that in Israel, unlike the United States, there has never been school segregation by law or by public consensus. Even before the implementation of the school reform, many children from the different ethnic groups studied together in the same schools. Therefore, the reform in Israel was not designed to abolish segregation but to increase interethnic contact, in the belief that this would lead to better overall interethnic relations. This belief does not apply exclusively to intergroup contact in the schools but to contact in any sector and is based on the hypothesis that greater opportunity for intergroup acquaintance tends to increase mutual understanding (Watson, 1947; Williams, 1947). The advantage of the school setting is that it allows for continuous, daily contact over a number of years among participants who are young and whose social attitudes are not yet fully formed.