MK calls for 'real integration' of Ethiopian pupils

Chairwoman of Knesset Committee on Rights of Child calls says schools do not have necessary tools to integrate Ethiopians.

June 11, 2013 19:53
1 minute read.
Ethiopian children waving flags

Ethiopian children 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski (illustrative))

Chairwoman of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child Likud Beiteinu MK Orly Levy-Abecasis called for “real and substantial integration” of Ethiopian pupils into the education system with their native-Israeli classmates at a meeting of the Committee on the subject held on Tuesday.

Levy-Abecasis stated that schools and principals in Israel do not have the necessary tools to handle the integration of children of Ethiopian origin and called on the Education Ministry to examine the issue with the assistance of social workers.

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Ramat Hasharon High School student Amit Tzur, who was present at the meeting said that there is no real integration in her school.

“When students encounter the Ethiopian community, they are apprehensive,” Tzur, who volunteers at a local center for at-risk youth, told the MKs.

The committee also discussed the closure of schools for Ethiopians by previous education minister Gideon Sa’ar, which was done suddenly, without cooperation with parents and social workers.

Levy-Abecasis asked Education Minister Shai Piron to reconsider closing Ethiopian-only schools, in which students tend to excel.

Yesh Atid MK Penina Tamno-Shata, who had initiated the meeting, emphasized that “Ethiopian students are not fully integrated in the education system.”

“There can be education for excellence in separate schools, but that will do a disservice to these children and raise them in a false reality,” she added.

According to Tamno-Shata, the students in Ethiopian schools in Petah Tikva that were shut down were sent to other schools without warning, and their grades suffered as a result.

“Our problem as a society is that we are even talking about integration or separation,” Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews director-general Ziva Mekonan-Dego explained.

“There are no neighborhoods in Israel that are 90 percent Ethiopian, while there are four or five schools with 90% Ethiopian students, because the local authorities allow veteran parents to remove their children from schools [with many Ethiopians], which weakens the school,” she added.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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