Minister Gideon Sa'ar. 'I won't accept racism'
Photo: Yaron Brener

Sa'ar suggests sanctions against racist schools

Parents' committee in Petah Tikva threatens to put schools on strike as long as religious schools in city that receive State funding won't accept Ethiopian students. Education minister threatens sanctions, says 'I will not accept racism wrapped in excuses'

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said Wednesday he won't accept racism, "even if it is wrapped in excuses and assertions," following the Petah Tikva parents' committee's threat to put schools on strike because of religious schools' lack of willingness to accept Ethiopian pupils into their student bodies.


"The Education Ministry will use the harshest means possible against schools that refused to accept Ethiopian students," explained Sa'ar on Wednesday. According to him, schools that refuse to accept Ethiopian students will be slammed with budgetary sanctions.


Earlier, Petach Tikva's municipal parents' committee chairman, Gadi Yafeh, threatened to thwart the opening of the school year in the city if no appropriate accommodations are found for some 200 Ethiopian students. This comes after it was found that out of 20 public religious schools in the city, only five are willing to accept the Ethiopian students.


The rest of the religious schools in the city that are privately owned have provided various excuses not to accept the students. These schools are defined as "recognized, but unofficial institutions," some of which are ultra-Orthodox and some of which are national religious. They all receive government funding.


Under the Nahari Law, which was passed two years ago, some of them even receive more funding than public schools. Their finding could even increase if the Knesset passes the Gafni bill, currently in deliberations.


'Self-righteous straw men'

"According to an Education Ministry decision, new immigrants from Ethiopia must study in a religious setting in their first years here," said Yafeh.


"However, except for the public religious institutions, the rest of the religious education system in the city – the private and the recognized but unofficial – evade helping in this national mission with various excuses, and wage an intractable and aggressive struggle against any attempt to place Ethiopian immigrants in their schools. This ugly opposition, which hides behind self-righteous straw men, is unacceptable to us."


In the coming year, some 200 Ethiopian students in need of a religious learning framework are slated to enter the city's education system. "We demand that each of these students be accepted into the religious education institutions in the city so that the absorption of the immigrants be uniform," said Yafeh.


"We, the municipal parents' committee, decided to act in coordination with the forum of parents of religious-public schools in order to aid them in any kind of struggle they decide upon, including far-reaching steps including picketing the municipal education system so that immigrant absorption will be carried out evenly and equally in Petah Tikva," continued Yafeh.


Movement for the Advancement of Education in Israel declared that it would petition the High Court if the schools ignore the injunctions from the city and the Education Ministry and still refuse to accept Ethiopian students.


"The State of Israel created with its own hands a national educational catastrophe," said the movement's CEO, Shay Piron. "Through the Nahari Law and the Gafni Law, it will be possible to establish schools, to receive State funding, buildings and budgets from the local authorities, and to receive a sterile and elitist school that has no social or national obligations."


פרסום ראשון: 08.19.09, 23:08
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