Schools mark Day for Elimination of Discrimination

Education Ministry orders schools across the country to hold discussions on the subject of racism with students.

March 10, 2013 18:45
3 minute read.
Haredi schools

Shas schools 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

In honor of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, the Education Ministry has decreed that schools across the country hold discussions on the subject of racism with students of all ages, from elementary to high school.

The Ministry decided to mark the day earlier this year, due to the upcoming twoweek Passover vacation which will overlap with the international event.

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“We see great importance in the struggle against racism, so we mark this day every year,” the executive director of the Education Ministry, Dalit Stauber, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“But this year there have been a few events in which there was racism involved, where innocent people, citizens, got hurt, not necessarily in the education system, but in general, in society,” she said.

“We want to explain to the students why there is no place for these things,” she added.

Educators nationwide were instructed, on Sunday, to bring the subject of the fight against racial discrimination into their classrooms, and to talk to their students about racist events that have made news headlines over the past year.

The latest such case concerns two female teachers, an Arab and a Jew, attacked by haredi youth last week on their way to a condolence call in Jerusalem.

Stauber, who publicly condemned the event and personally spoke to the teachers concerned, explained that the ministry found the attack important enough to “stop the daily agenda and say something about it.”

“The education system took responsibility here,” she said.

“We want to address this [racism] in the system and educate the kind of society that we want to live in, a society with less violence, more patience,” Stauber said.

To facilitate this operation, the Ministry published relevant teaching material and studies – adapted to various grades and age groups – on its website for schools to use.

“It goes without saying that we, as a people, suffered from racism and were victims of cruel stereotypes,” Stauber told the Post, “I think that even without this [history], an improved society should protect itself from such occurrences and educate toward tolerance, and that’s what we are doing.”

“We hope that kids will understand that you need to respect a human being for being a human being; develop tolerance for the other; and be able to foster and respect the heterogeneity of our society, which is a society with varied cultures, varied religions, varied opinions,” she said.

As schools nationwide addressed the topic, Army Radio reported on Sunday that last week, students from a school in the Arab town of Sakhnin allegedly threw stones at those from a visiting religious Jewish school in Yokne’am. No one was injured in the incident.

According to Army Radio, the Yokne’am school headmistress failed to report the incident to the police and the district’s Education Ministry office.

The Sakhnin school’s headmaster sent a letter of apology following the incident to the headmistress of the Yokne’am school.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March, which marks the day when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws,” in Sharpeville, South Africa, in 1960.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the day in 1966, and called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Israel signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination the same year.

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