Integration of Migrants' Children Into Schools Harms Israeli Students, State Says

In response to High Court petition, Education Ministry cites award-winning Tel Aviv school as example of the 'failure' of the attempt to integrate migrants children to Israel's educational system.

Immigrant children should be separated from others in the school system, the Education Ministry believes, according to the State Prosecution’s appeal to the Supreme Court submitted earlier this week. The state appealed against the Be’er Sheva District Court, which had ordered Eilat two weeks ago to admit the children of African asylum-seekers to city schools.

The Be’er Sheva District Court ruled that as of the next school year, migrant children in Eilat must be fully integrated in the municipal school system and not be taught in a separate school, as they have been for the past four years.

The ministry says in its appeal that integrating the African children in schools has been a failure, citing as an example Tel Aviv’s Bialik Rogozin school.

However, Bialik Rogozin last year received the National Education Prize − the most prestigious prize awarded in the education system, in the presence of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and President Shimon Peres.

“As we see, the de facto attempt detailed above indicates that integrating infiltrators’ children into the regular education system does not give a proper answer to the infiltrators’ children and harms them,” the state’s appeal says.

“Placing those students in the usual schools, without taking into account relevant considerations, deepens the gaps between them and other students in the school,” the appeal says.

“The overwhelming majority of infiltrators’ children in Tel Aviv studies de facto in two schools − Bialik Rogozin and Hayarden. ... Experience indicates that the said integration is severly damaging, causing harm to the other children studying at the school, and does not enable them and the teaching and administrative staff [to operate] a functioning, advanced educational and learning framework.”

In addition to the National Education Prize, Bialik Rogozin school has been awarded numerous prizes and become a source of Israeli pride, among other reasons because a documentary film about it, “Strangers No More,” won the Oscar.

For the past four years Eilat has refused to enroll the children of migrants in its schools. Instead, it has sent them, with the approval of the Education Ministry, to a separate facility outside the city. 

During a discussion on the issue in the High Court on Thursday, Justice Salim Joubran said that “perhaps the notion of separation is what impedes our thinking, when we live in the State of Israel in the 21st century. Thus, we must make every effort to find a solution to the problem."

Justice Yoram Danziger added that he does not “know what would happen if another country would say to a specific ethnic group, not necessarily Jews, that due to the circumstances they would have to study in a different school system."