Deal struck over Ethiopians' schooling

After parents protest at religious schools, city pledges more absorption.

Ethiopian 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ethiopian 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Parents who had pulled their children from four state religious schools in Petah Tikva to protest the distribution of Ethiopian immigrant students in the local educational system, agreed to end their strike after reaching an agreement with the city on Monday. They had begun striking last week, and pledged to return their children to the schools after Pessah. According to the agreement, a copy of which was provided to The Jerusalem Post, the city promised to come to an arrangement this week with the haredi and private religious school networks under which those schools will take in any new Ethiopian immigrants at the beginning of the next school year. The parents committees had complained it was unfair that the state religious schools were the only ones accepting Ethiopian immigrants. However, the state religious schools agreed to accept siblings of those pupils already in the system. The agreement also stipulates that Ethiopian children receive the same financial assistance when attending the private schools as they did when attending the state religious ones. Finally, a committee will be formed to address the state religious schools' issues. Avi Masfin, spokesman for the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, told the Post Monday: "There was something not [so] innocent about this strike." According to their investigation at one school, he added, they had found that out of 1,100 students, just 75 were Ethiopian. "Their strike was discriminatory. How would you feel if the parents' council came to you and said we have enough of your kind at our school?" he asked rhetorically. He said that the parents strike would actually discourage Ethiopians from embracing a religious life when they saw that they were not wanted. Masfin also condemned the haredi and private school systems for refusing to accept Ethiopians. "The government must stop funding discriminatory private school systems. It is reminiscent of the dark past of some other countries," he said. Newly-arrived Falash Mura children have to go through religious schools as part of their conversion process. However, they usually continue in the religious school system afterwards as well, according to Masfin. "From our point of view, we've just begun. No matter whether the matter appears in the headlines or not, we'll stop the discrimination," he declared.