Petah Tikva PTA rejects compromise on Ethiopian pupils
According to deal struck between mayor, school directors city schools to admit Ethiopian students, 30 of them in three religious schools which refused to take them in. Immigrants to study in regular classes but will receive personally-tailored programs. PTA: No equality in agreement
The Parent-Teacher Association in Petah Tikva rejected on Sunday Mayor Yitzhak Ohaion's compromise offer regarding the admission of Ethiopian students into city schools and stated the strike scheduled to begin on September 1 still stands.
"There is no true equality in the compromise, not according to the number of students being assigned and not according to the method of their admission into the schools," PTA chairman Gadi Yaffe said.
Earlier Sunday it appeared as though a solution had been found for the crisis surrounding the admission of students of Ethiopian descent into schools in Petah Tikva.
According to the compromise, which was reached on Sunday between Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon and the school directors, the immigrant students will be entered into regular classes, without admission tests, in all of the city's educational establishments, according to their place of residence.
Each student will get a personally-tailored advancement program which will be funded by the Education Ministry and is aimed at minimizing learning gaps within classes.
Petah Tikva city council meeting (Photo: Ofer Amram)
The Petah Tikva Municipality claimed that the three religious schools which created the crisis with their refusal to accept Ethiopians, have also agreed to take in 30 immigrant students. The school principals said that the whole affair had been blown out of proportions.
The crisis involved students that had yet to be assigned to schools and had arrived during the summer vacation from the absorption center to Petah Tikva. "The agreement ensures that all children without exception will be admitted," the mayor said. Knesset Member Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) played an important role in negotiations.
Most of the Ethiopian students who sought to enter schools are seculars who underwent proselytism. "The Chief Rabbinate threatened us that if they don't study within the religious education they will put obstacles for accepting more Ethiopian students," explained Acting Mayor Motti Zeft.
"We want to put a rabbi in every school as it should be. The students come with no knowledge of Hebrew so it doesn’t make sense to put them in a class where they don’t know what's going on. That's why we suggested preparatory classes. The Education Ministry was against it," he further added.
Waiting to enter schools (Photo: Shaul Golan)
The principals of the three schools refused to attend a hearing with the Education Ministry chief of staff on Sunday. Meanwhile, many commented on the affair, including President Shimon Peres who said that "this insults and hurts us all" and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who regarded the case as "a moral terrorist attack."
A senior official in the Education Ministry told Ynet that the compromise agreement reached between Petah Tikva schools and the Municipality was "a political stunt made behind the ministry's back."
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar warned that institutes which will continue to refuse Ethiopian students will suffer sanctions such as withholding funds and licenses.
Former education minister and Knesset member Yuli Tamir said, "Petah Tikva has been turning out to be a system that closes its gates and fails to provide the Ethiopian students with equality, for many years now. Schools need to realize that this is a basic condition for the opening of the school year and that they need to embrace an open policy."
Yaheli Moran Zelikovich contributed to this report