Date: Wednesday, 31 October 2018
Some 70 Eritrean children were moved to a new preschool in Netanya. Their parents are boycotting the school in protestOr Kashti Oct 31, 2018
'Separate cannot be equal'
The Netanya Municipality says the segregated preschool was established for the refugees’ welfare, near where most of them live.
“True that it’s inside the market, but you also live there,” a city worker said.
A parents’ representative replied “there’s no room for play, you can’t even move in there. We don’t want a situation where overcrowding leads to kids hitting each other.”
In a recording of the meeting obtained by Haaretz, the city told parents, “It’s not the best spot but the only option we have.” They were also told, “Other kindergartens are full,” and “The staff was trained to respect your culture,” and “It’s easier to provide the proper education when you’re in one group,” and “You’re fighting an unnecessary war. Someone is trying to make you feel important."
Parents replied that nobody had asked them what they wanted.
The city said further that some of the children had gone to religious preschools last year and the ministry had requested they be removed from that system.
At the meeting, city representatives sought in vain to persuade the parents to send their children to the separate school. “We are required to provide you with an education and you must send your children to kindergarten,” they said.
The coaxing didn’t work. Some parents replied that they were ready to go to prison for refusing to send their children to the segregated preschool.
“I have lost a lot of money by staying at home with my child, but he will lose more if he goes to a segregated school under such poor conditions,” one of the asylum seeker parents said.
Haran Reichman, an attorney with the legal and educational policy clinic at the University of Haifa wrote to the head of Netanya’s education department, Shmuel Abuav, “the main difficulty with the conduct of the local authority is their segregation of registration by ethnic group. The other problem is the condition of the kindergarten facility.”
“There’s a clear link between these two problems: in a place that segregates children by ethnicity, it is little wonder that the conditions provided to the weaker group would be inferior. No Israeli parent would agree to this. Separate cannot be equal," he added.
The Netanya Municipality replied, “we are making every effort to integrate foreign children and about 100 attend city preschools. This year, due to a rise in the number of children who we were not aware of before beginning preparations for the new year and due to Education Ministry demands not to integrate them in religious schools, the city was forced to find an immediate solution. We decided to prepare two kindergarten facilities, which were upgraded. It should be noted that the Education Ministry approved of these facilities.”
The ministry chose not to express any position on the principles behind the issue of segregated kindergartens for foreign workers, but said that “the placement of children in kindergartens is done by the local authorities who have been so authorized under the law.” The ministry added, “in accordance with the U.N.’s charter for children’s rights, Israel provides educational services for all children residing in the country for more than 90 days."