Despite Law, Teacher Colleges Require Applicants to List Nationality

Education Ministry vows to replace old form which illegally requires applicants to list their nationality and their parents' countries of origin.

Talila Nesher
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Talila Nesher

The Education Ministry has been forcing applicants to teacher colleges to provide details about their nationality and their parents’ countries of origin, in apparent violation of the law.

The ministry, which acknowledges it is using an old form and says it intends to correct the mistake, currently requires applicants to more than 20 education colleges to provide such personal details before they can register or even be admitted to the institutions.

These requirements are prohibited by the Students’ Rights Law, which forbids colleges from “discriminating against candidates or students on the basis of their or their parents’ origins, their socioeconomic background or for reasons of religion, nationality, gender or place of residence.”

The ministry notes that it does not discriminate against candidates, explaining that “every applicant to an education college who fills out the required details is accepted. ... Filling out the form has nothing to do with the candidate’s acceptance.”

Nevertheless, by law colleges are allowed to request such information only if the applicant willingly agrees to provide it for the purpose of receiving certain benefits or other exceptions. Even then, the information must be provided on a separate form.

The teacher colleges − which unlike other universities and colleges are subordinate to the Education Ministry instead of the Council for Higher Education − receive the forms directly from the ministry. They require applicants to list their and their parents’ nationality, countries of origin and overall years of study.

“These details, which constitute a complete invasion of privacy, are compulsory,” says a CEO of one of the education colleges. “When you give the Education Ministry the list of students, anyone who hasn’t filled in their nationality or country of origin is required to fill out another form. You can’t omit this information.”

In addition, applicants are required to list their military service, serial number and, if applicable, their reason for exemption from service, along with a letter of confirmation from the Israel Defense Forces.

They must also list their health maintenance organization, their tuition sources, and whether they are a permanent or temporary resident.

The students’ personal details are “exposed to various service providers,” according to the college CEO.

“This is an invasion of privacy beyond any common sense,” says Zehava, a student at one Israeli education college. “People here come from many different countries. As a Jew whose parents emigrated from the Soviet Union, I find this offensive and humiliating. My own state is vetting and marking me. I come from a place where I was persecuted for my nationality and here I’m required to declare it. This division is intended to monitor the number of different kinds of students, marking them as first- or second-rate. This policy must be changed."

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