ACRI Appeals to Desegregate Tel Aviv Schools
Earlier this week, on 9.11.20, ACRI and the Clinic for Law and Educational Policy at the University of Haifa appealed to the Minister of Education and the Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, demanding an end to the segregated education of children of asylum seekers in the city of Tel Aviv.
In Tel Aviv the situation is uniquely complex, as registration for educational institutions is based on region and most asylum seekers live in one concentrated area of the city, thus the children are sent to the same institutions. In the last few years there has been a new policy, and as if out of nowhere, new schools intended exclusively for children of asylum seekers were established, regardless of the fact that many asylum seeker households live nearer pre-existing institutions. Then came the most obvious tactic for ensuring separation between children of asylum seekers and those with Israeli citizenship – a decision was made to establish a school solely for foreigners in Levinsky Park (there are ongoing appeal proceedings taking place in the Planning and Construction committees on the matter).
In our appeal, we emphasize that the right to education is a basic human right and an obligation of the State to provide civilians, and that, of course, separate is not equal. The dire consequences of separate education on the development of youth includes an underdeveloped understanding of society and the environment in which they live. We referred to the policy of the United States and Canada regarding integration of the children of asylum seekers into educational systems, noting that they would not dare to segregate the populations. Even in Turkey, which lags behind most EU countries in integrating children of asylum seekers, there is an internalized process and commitment to integrate refugee children into the education system as stipulated by International Law.
We called for the Ministry of Education and Mayor Huldai to open the educational institution registration to all children in the city. In order to integrate the school system, registration need not be determined by geographical area. This is not a new concept, as in the past, the city of Tel Aviv subsidized transportation for children of asylum seekers in the south of the city to travel to the north of the city to attend various kindergartens. While historically the city of Tel Aviv has not made it difficult for the children of immigrations to register for school or after-school programs, as is the case in other cities, this is an unfortunate new chapter. The mere potential to be in an educational framework in the city is not enough – integration is obligatory.
On 9.2.21, we appealed a second time, along with the Clinic for Law and Educational Policy at the University of Haifa, to the Minister of Education and the Mayor of Tel Aviv to end the segregation of schools between the children of asylum seekers and Israelis. Since our first appeal on 9.11.20, we became aware of a new phenomenon - the special-education school system in Tel Aviv is also segregated, unlike in years prior. What’s more, following our meeting with the Tel Aviv Municipality and later in their response to our appeal, we were promised that upon individual request, priority would be given to the transfer of the children of asylum seekers into integrated schools. As such, our appeal today was sent with the names of 286 children whose parents are requesting be transferred into Israeli educational institutions. Dozens more parents are expected to join the request in the coming weeks.