After prior report of ‘separate’ kindergartens for Ethiopian youngsters, it now sadly appears that racism can strike at all and any academic institutions. At the Lamerchav Elementary in Petah Tikva, four female Ethiopian students were separated from their peers and placed in their own segregated classroom.
As reported Tuesday by Yediot Ahronoth, the Ethiopian girls and their family had just moved from Haifa to Petah Tikva, where they enrolled in “Lamerchav”. As far as Principal Yishayahu Granwich was concerned, however, these new students could not be fully integrated into the school community. Ostensibly—as noted by municipality officials—this was because the girl were not observant enough, and did not belong to the Religious Zionist Movement as do all of the students at the school.
These Ethiopian immigrants were consequently placed in a separate classroom at the very end of the school corridor. One teacher alone was allotted for teaching them all of the various academic subjects. Moreover, the girls were assigned different recess hours to their peers, and given cab fare home so that they would not “overly socialize” with the rest of the girls.
Education officials 'shocked and appaled'
The girls' parents immediately noticed that their children were lonely, depressed and less than eager to go to school. “We do not understand what we did wrong, what crime we’re guilty of. Is this only because we are black?” they asked Ethiopian activist Daniel Uriah, who tried to speak to the principal on their behalf and was unceremoniously kicked out of the school building. Uriah then met with the director of the education administration, who told him that “the school in question is elitist and the girls must learn how to behave if they would like to fit in.”
Uriah next turned to Deputy Mayor of Petach Tikva, Paltiel Aisenthal of the National Union-National Religious Party. At a joint meeting with the girls’ parents, Aidenthal glibly stated: “Don’t worry about it. We know what is best for the girls. It is no big deal if they are separated from their peers.”
Education Minister Yuli Tamir said in response to this incident: “I was shocked an appalled at what happened to these girls. None of this was reported to the Ministry of Education. This is blatant racism and those responsible will suffer the appropriate consequences.”
Officials at the Education Ministry expressed shock and disgust at the incident, and strongly condemned these blatantly racist actions.
“Discrimination and racism have no place in the education system,” they noted. Ministry of Education Director General Shlomit Amichai reported that an inspector will be sent to the school Tuesday morning to investigate the matter, and that the school will be penalized accordingly.
Schools officials did not make formal comment, but noted that the school is elitist both in terms of academics and religious observance, and, for religious purposes, reserves the right not to admit students who have a television or internet access in their home.
Furthermore, as a religious institution, the school had full right to refuse admission to the aforementioned students, because they could not live up to its academic standards.
School officials also note that due the school only agreed to admit these Ethiopian students at the municipality’s insistence, and therefore was forced to relegate them to special classrooms where they could catch up academically .Furthermore, the students in question also attended many lessons in regular classrooms along with their peers.
The school staunchly denies the claims that the girls had separate recess hours, labeling them “utterly false”. Furthermore, school officials describe the cab rides home as a “perk” given to the Ethiopian students by the local municipality. “Who wouldn’t want to be chauffeured home in a cab?” they remarked.