Israeli state wants school segregation for children of ‘infiltrators’ aka Africans
Still from “Strangers No More” about Tel Aviv’s Bialik Rogozin. The portrayal of the prize-winning multi-ethnic school by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon won the 2011 Academy Award for best short documentary.
Integration of migrants’ children into schools harms Israeli students, state says
In response to High Court petition, Education Ministry cites award-winning Tel Aviv school as example of the ‘failure’ of the attempt to integrate migrants children to Israel’s educational system.
By Talila Nesher, Ha’aretz
August 23, 2012
Immigrant children should be separated from others in the school system, the Education Ministry believes, according to the State Prosecution’s appeal to the Supreme Court submitted earlier this week. The state appealed against the Be’er Sheva District Court, which had ordered Eilat two weeks ago to admit the children of African asylum-seekers to city schools.
The Be’er Sheva District Court ruled that as of the next school year, migrant children in Eilat must be fully integrated in the municipal school system and not be taught in a separate school, as they have been for the past four years.
The ministry says in its appeal that integrating the African children in schools has been a failure, citing as an example Tel Aviv’s Bialik Rogozin school.
However, Bialik Rogozin last year received the National Education Prize − the most prestigious prize awarded in the education system, in the presence of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and President Shimon Peres.
“As we see, the de facto attempt detailed above indicates that integrating infiltrators’ children into the regular education system does not give a proper answer to the infiltrators’ children and harms them,” the state’s appeal says.
“Placing those students in the usual schools, without taking into account relevant considerations, deepens the gaps between them and other students in the school,” the appeal says.
“The overwhelming majority of infiltrators’ children in Tel Aviv studies de facto in two schools − Bialik Rogozin and Hayarden. … Experience indicates that the said integration is severely damaging, causing harm to the other children studying at the school, and does not enable them and the teaching and administrative staff [to operate] a functioning, advanced educational and learning framework.”
In addition to the National Education Prize, Bialik Rogozin school has been awarded numerous prizes and become a source of Israeli pride, among other reasons because a documentary film about it, “Strangers No More,” won the Oscar.
For the past four years Eilat has refused to enroll the children of migrants in its schools. Instead, it has sent them, with the approval of the Education Ministry, to a separate facility outside the city.
During a discussion on the issue in the High Court on Thursday, Justice Salim Joubran said that “perhaps the notion of separation is what impedes our thinking, when we live in the State of Israel in the 21st century. Thus, we must make every effort to find a solution to the problem.”
Justice Yoram Danziger added that he does not “know what would happen if another country would say to a specific ethnic group, not necessarily Jews, that due to the circumstances they would have to study in a different school system.”
Eilat claims claims in its appeal that the initial ruling was wrong and would, if carried out, hurt the very children it was supposed to help; Education Ministry backs ban.
By Talila Nesher, Ha’aretz
August 20, 2012
The city of Eilat on Sunday filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, asking it to overturn a Be’er Sheva District Court decision from two weeks ago ordering Eilat to admit the children of African asylum-seekers into the city’s school system.
On August 9 Judge Rachel Barkai ruled in favor of 15 school-aged children of asylum-seekers living in Eilat who sued the city for the right to study in its regular school system.
For the past four years Eilat has refused to enroll the children of migrants in its schools. Instead it has sent them, with the approval of the Education Ministry, to a separate facility outside the city.
During the 2011-2012 school year about 55 children of different ages who were born in Sudan and Eritrea were sent to study in a makeshift school located in an abandoned youth village located in Kibbutz Eilot.
The petition, which was submitted by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Tel Aviv University’s Refugee Rights Clinic, the Assaf Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers and the The Clinic for Migrants’ Rights at the Academic Center of Law & Business in Ramat Gan, claimed that these children were not receiving even a basic education, much less learning the Education Ministry’s national curriculum. “The school building does not meet even elementary standards,” the petition stated, adding, “The children study in ‘multi-age’ classrooms with children aged 13-17, and they are not permitted to take the bagrut matriculation exams.”
“The ruling ostensibly sets a new legal norm: “the right to integration in education,” the city’s appeal states. It goes on to argue that children who are in Israel unlawfully “do not have a known and acknowledged right to inclusion in the regular education system and to integration in the schools’ regular classrooms.”
In its appeal the Eilat municipality requested a stay of execution of the judgment, arguing that otherwise “irreversible damage” would be caused to both the Education Ministry “and, to a certain extent, to the respondents themselves.” The school year begins on September 1.
The appeal was approved by the ministry, which according to Eilat officials is drafting its own appeal to Barkai’s ruling. In addition to opposing the enrollment of the students in its educational institutions, the city argues that it lacks the practical means to carry out the district court’s decision. “The municipality has no data concerning the number of children of compulsory-education age who must be enrolled, … their ages and their level of studies,” the appellants argue, adding that “admitting the children of illegal border-crossers … requires locating and hiring a large additional number of employees in all areas of instruction, … changing and adapting the curriculum … [and would] cause much distress and frustration for everyone, teachers and students alike.”
Among other arguments, the city of Eilat claims in its appeal that the Education Ministry determined that the needs of the migrant children are not served by local school systems, and that therefore Barkai’s ruling was wrong and would, if carried out, hurt the very children it was supposed to help. The city also rejected claims in the original petition according to which the children in the Kibbutz Eilot facility were taught by uncertified teachers, stating that the children were taught “in accordance with a curriculum that was created and modified especially for them … by teachers experienced with disadvantaged populations.”