Ethiopian pupils still waiting for a school where they can learn

More than a dozen pupils of Ethiopian origin still yet to be accepted by any school in Petah Tikva despite widely praised, last-minute agreement.

September 2, 2009 23:44
1 minute read.
Ethiopian pupils still waiting for a school where they can learn

ethiopian school protest 248.88. (photo credit: Aloni Mor/Israel Post)

More than a dozen pupils of Ethiopian origin had yet to be accepted by any school in Petah Tikva on Wednesday, despite a widely praised, last-minute agreement between the Education Ministry and the city regarding the placement of over 100 such pupils in a number of schools. Ministry officials said they might not have the problems sorted out until the start of next week. Additionally, the ministry and municipality had conflicting information as to the number of pupils still in need of placement. While the ministry said that 16 first graders were facing "admission difficulties," the Petah Tikva Municipality put the number at 20. Ministry officials also said that the problem was not that the schools were refusing to admit the pupils, but that there were discrepancies between the municipality, the schools and the ministry, regarding the lists of pupils and where they were supposed to be enrolled. On Tuesday, Education Ministry Director-General Shimshon Shoshani, along with municipality officials, said that some children had been sent to the wrong school by mistake, while some of pupils' families complained of language difficulties. Under the agreement, which was reached during a meeting between Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon, and Shoshani, 30 of the 108 Ethiopian pupils in question were supposed to begin their studies on Tuesday at the three "recognized but unofficial" religious schools that had been reluctant to admit them - Lamerhav, Da'at Mevinim and Darkei Noam. An additional 18 pupils are set to begin studying in those semi-private institutions as well when they arrive in Petah Tikva in the coming weeks. The remaining 60 pupils, who are expected to arrive in the city throughout the school year, will be admitted to semi-private schools in accordance with Education Ministry assignments. Additionally, the city and the Education Ministry said they were to appoint a joint task force to examine the implementation of the pupils' enrollment and the general integration of Ethiopian pupils in the city's schools. It was unclear what role, if any, that task force was playing in helping sort through Wednesday's confusion.

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