The study was instigated because of the concern of policymakers and professionals for Druze youth in recent years. In partnership with the head of Druze education at the Ministry of Education, the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute conducted a survey of a representative sample of 1,100 Druze students in grades 8 and 11 at all the Druze secondary schools in Israel. Ministry of Education data revealed that the achievements of Druze youth in their matriculation exams fall short of those in the Jewish sector, but are better than those of Arab students. The findings provide important information about scholastic issues as well as other meaningful areas in the lives of these youth and clearly reflect their point of view.
The survey’s main contribution is to call public attention to the areas where the youth are experiencing problems and difficulties. The students themselves indicated problems in the following areas:
School studies: 33%
Social relations: 26%
Not making full use of leisure time: 71%
Physical and mental symptoms: 32%
Violent behavior: 29%
Relationships with parents: 44%
Almost all the students who participated in the survey reported at least one problem, but many youths have problems in several spheres: one in four boys and one in six girls reported problems in four or more areas. There are differences among different groups: boys have more problems than girls; eleventh graders have problems in more areas than eighth graders; students in the Golan have problems in more areas than those in the Galilee, who in turn have problems in more areas than those in the Carmel area. Local services operate in the Druze localities to help the students cope with their problems and encourage normative development. The community services are in contact with most of the students who have problems in many areas (66%), but a third of the boys and girls who have numerous problems have not met with any professional from a therapeutic community service.
Druze youth, particularly the girls, believe that they are capable of attaining a much higher level of education than most of their parents and the majority of them are interested in integrating into professions that testify to social mobility. Military service is compulsory for young Druze men. Most of them (74%) are highly motivated to serve and half (50%) are interested in holding a command position. Most of the girls (80%) aspire to work in an academic profession. While still at school, about half the students (47%) want to start earning money. Almost all the youth (over 95%) reported that were proud to belong to the Druze community and proud of the community’s values.
There are gaps between the boys’ and girls’ perception and these too need special attention. Almost all the girls (88%) claim that the society ought to relate to them in the same way as the boys, compared with a lower percentage of Druze boys – 72% – who feel that way.
It is the responsibility of the education system and community services to find ways to respond better to the needs of these young people and to help them tackle the many challenges facing them. This should be accompanied by strengthening the “universal” services (schoolteachers, family doctors, and counselors in informal education settings) and bolstering natural sources of support, first and foremost the family.