Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Must be treated as equals (Iillustration)
Photo: Ofer Amram
Israel has over 100 preschools and schools with a majority of Ethiopian students, a new report by the Knesset Research Center revealed.
The report will be submitted to the Knesset's Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Tuesday, as it debated the integration of Ethiopian children in schools.
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Ethiopian children make up 1% of the education system's student body. The report suggests that the concentration of Ethiopian immigrants in certain communities has resulted in some schools becoming "ghettos" for the community's children.
The data indicated that Israel has 10 kindergartens and one elementary school whose student body is exclusively Ethiopian; and these students make up over 50% of the student body in 75 preschools, 17 elementary schools, four junior high schools and seven high schools.
The percentage of Ethiopian student to successfully graduate high school has risen from 32.7% to 42.1% between 2007 and 2010, but it is still significantly lower than the percentage noted in the general Jewish student body – 64.6%.
The report found that only 21% of Ethiopians qualify for higher education.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said that his ministry was "working to ensure the optimal integration of Ethiopian students in Israeli schools and strives to place them is schools which can offer the proper academic and social integration."
Since the ministry cannot prevent parents from enrolling their children in a specific school because of the ratio of Ethiopian students, he added, "We are working on making school more attractive, so they would appeal to a diversified population."
A position paper submitted to the committee by the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews said that "The separation of Ethiopian students and 'holding' then in schools 'of their own' are indicative of a clear policy of segregation, which perpetuates racist perceptions labeling them as weaker than other students.
"This policy is in clear contrast to the spirit if the State of Israel as a democratic state which welcomes immigrants and offers them equal opportunities."
Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) called the findings "insulting to Israeli society," adding that "this somber reality of 'ghettos' requires the attention of the government ministries and professional bodies, which must formulate a work plan for the proper integration of the Ethiopian community, instead of forcing it to the sidelines."
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