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02.06.2024 | כה אייר התשפד

BIU’s Faculty of Education: A Beacon of Equity and Inclusion

The faculty champions equity through inter-faith dialogues, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, and academic support for people with disabilities

BIU’s Faculty of Education A Beacon of Equity and Inclusion

Under Prof. Zehavit Gross's leadership, the faculty’s vision and mission are deeply rooted in the core values of equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice. These principles drive every aspect of the faculty’s work as they strive to empower change and transform society.

“For the past 28 years I’ve been facilitating dialog groups between Palestinians and Jewish students on our campus,” said Prof. Zehavit Gross, Dean of Faculty of Education, Bar-Ilan University Chair, Arab Jewish Cooperation Project for Tolerance Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Education for Human Values, Democracy, Tolerance and Peace. “I’ve also established an inter-faith Beit Midrash for religious dialog, bringing together Imams, Rabbis, Muslim and Arab Palestinian students, and Jewish students, for studying religious canonical texts from Islam and Judaism together. I invite everyone to see how bridges are built in our faculty.”

“The faculty gave me not only professional knowledge, but also a positive academic experience. During my studies, I felt the inclusion and acceptance of the faculty for all its students, whoever they may be,” said Yosef Katanov, PhD student, and Ultra-Orthodox graduate of the Faculty of Education, Bar-Illan University.

As part of the effort to promote diversity and inclusion, Dean Prof. Gross established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEI), and appointed Prof. Pascale Benoliel as its Commissioner. Prof. Benoliel works in cooperation with DEI ambassadors and committee members. Together they work to mitigate systemic barriers, prejudices, gaps and discrimination, fostering a more equitable educational environment.

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“I’m a former doctoral student in the Faculty of Education at Bar-Ilan University under the guidance of Dr. Pascale Benoliel, and currently an Ambassador in the Diversity, Inclusion, Integration and Cultural Diversity Unit,” said Dr. Misaa Nassir of the Faculty of Education, Bar-Ilan University. “The faculty is home to fascinating and impactful research that creates a dynamic and inspiring learning environment that provides the knowledge and tools needed for success in the future. Mainly, I love Bar-Ilan University because it provides me with equality and security, and a sense of being at home. It gives me the tools and opportunities to grow and develop in a pleasant and inclusive academic and social environment”.

The faculty promotes inclusive tertiary education aligned with the UN Convention for persons with disabilities, led by Professor Hefziba Lifshitz. The MA Program in Intellectual Disability initiated the Empowerment Otzmot project, enabling students, including those with Down Syndrome to earn a BA degree.

“The studies here gave me skills knowledge and values. Besides academic knowledge, I acquired learning skills and emotional skills,” said Oded Naftali, who graduated after 10 years of studies with the Otzmot program at the Faculty of Education at Bar-Ilan University. At first, I was introverted and shy, and later on, throughout my studies here, the project Otzmot helped me gain self confidence. When I arrived at Bar-Ilan I felt accepted by everyone. It helped me because I wasn’t familiar with the university in terms of behaviour and values. The Otzmot framework helps open doors for people with various disabilities to get an academic education”.

The Faculty of Education at Bar-Ilan University’s efforts create an inclusive environment where all students, regardless of background or ability, can thrive academically and personally, embodying the faculty's mission to transform society through education.