J. D. B. News Letter

American University at Beirut Does Not Bar Hebrew High School Graduates By Our Beirut Correspondent

The American University at Beirut does not discriminate against the graduates of the Gymnasia Ivrith, the Hebrew high school of Tel Aviv, declared President Bayard Dodge of the University in reply to an inquiry of the “Jewish Daily Bulletin”. A report published in the “Doar Ha’yom,” Palestine Hebrew daily, had stated that the American University at Beirut has discontinued to admit graduates of the Gymnasia Ivrith.

Only a lack of knowledge of the English language would keep graduates of the Tel Aviv high school from being admitted to the University, the President stated.

1. Let me assure you that the University is most anxious to do everything that it can to encourage high schools in this part of the world, President Dodge declared in his statement. We have kept up the fees and standards of the preparatory school annexed to our institution so as to avoid competition with other schools around us. Our diplomas are authorized by the Regents of the State of New York, and the Regents have been most sympathetic in allowing us the right to accept students who pass government examinations and to give full credit to certificates provided by the principals of well-known schools. Furthermore, we have sent many of our best teachers to other schools at considerable sacrifice to our own secondary work. We feel that whenever a boy can have the advantage of secondary schooling in his own locality, it is much better for him to be brought up there in his home atmosphere and close to his parents. Accordingly we have encouraged schools in the district around us and have always advised parents to keep their sons as near to home as possible for their preliminary education.

2. A Board for Higher Studies has been trying to organize the secondary educational work in Palestine in close cooperation with the Government Department of Education. This Board has conducted matriculation examinations. It has been clearly understood that students passing these examinations may enter sophomore year of our University with certain definite conditions.

a. They must pass what is known as Schedule A English in the examination, or else prove to our Faculty that they know enough English to read the reference books and understand the lectures of our sophomore class.

b. If they are to fit themselves for engineering, they must have passed off certain courses in mathematics before being eligible to enter sophomore year.

c. If they wish to enter medicine or dentistry, they must have passed off certain courses in chemistry and biology before being allowed to enter sophomore year.

Students of the Ivrith Gymnasia have the same rights as other students in Palestine in connection with these Palestine Matriculation Examinations.

3. Many schools in Palestine have not attempted to fit students for the Matriculation examinations as they have not got proper teaching material for such advanced work. During the past years, a number of these schools have been perenitted to grant certificates to students and the University has allowed these students to enter freshman class without further examination. On the other hand, it has always been clearly understood that these students must know enough English to do the work of our Freshman year. It is not likely that this permission for students to enter the University upon certificate without examination will continue much longer, and of course any privilege given to other schools will be granted to the Gymnasia Ivrith. At the present time, the Gymnasia Ivrith has had a certain advantage over the other schools, namely, students from the eighth year of the Gymnasia, who know English, are often admitted to classes higher than freshman. Students of the Gymnasia who wish to enter our Medical School and who are able to pass examinations in English, Botany and General Chemistry are permitted to enter the final year of the pre-medical course. Students from all other secondary schools in Palestine must take two years of pre-medical work before entering medicine or dentistry, and do not have this privilege of presenting themselves for examinations with the possibility of qualifying to enter so as to spend one year of work in pre-medicine. This special privilege has been granted to the Gymnasia Ivrith because we realized that its work in science is better than the work of other schools in Palestine.

4. Some years ago, the standards of our work, specially in medicine, were very much lower than they are at the present time. We have not “discontinued” admitting graduates of the Gymnasia Ivrith except as we have raised our standards and obliged all of the schools in this part of the world either to raise their own standards or to send their students to classes lower than the ones which the boys were allowed to enter during the war. The only disadvantage which the Gymnasia Ivrith has is the fact that so much of the work is done in Hebrew that many of the students do not know English well enough to follow our courses unless they have had special lessons in English. Our University conducts a summer school in the mountains of Lebanon where students of the Gymnasia are free to spend the summer if they wish to perfect themselves in English, and in that way to enter our higher classes.

5. I might say that we are making special arrangements for Jewish students as they are free from classes on Saturdays provided they make up the work. They are not obliged to attend any of our religious services and may attend their own synagogue meetings. A special Kosher restaurant is conducted in connection with our refectory, in their behalf; and one of our Jewish teachers has organized the Kadima Society to keep alive an interest in Hebrew culture, President Dodge concluded.

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