Vol 32 (2012): Special Issue: Making Educational Oral Histories in the 21st Century

Oral History in Understanding Ethnic Group Education

Nirit Raichel
Kinneret Regional Academic College and Gordon College
Tali Tadmor-Shimony
Ben Gurion University of the Negev


This study examines the importance of oral history in understanding and gaining familiarity with the education system among unique minority groups in Israel. The article focuses on the development of Circassian education at the end of the nineteenth century in a remote region of Ottoman Palestine, showing how their education system was created, with emphasis on the socio-educational views of this ethnic minority whose language is oral in origin. The Circassian population described in this research is an ethnic group with a spoken language, while the written language is unclear to the community members due to changes in the letters of the alphabet and the way it is written.2 In this case, the oral evidence is a primary source, supplying information which is not available in any other way. The research is based on fifteen interviewees, 'elders of the village,’ whose estimated ages ranged from 70 to 95. The memories of the interviewees were personal and were adapted from family stories. Respondents were asked to describe their studies at school and the development of the educational institutions at Kfar Kama as they remember them.