In response to parental complaints, the Education Ministry recently announced that as of the coming school year, all circulars issued by its director general will be translated into Arabic.
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Until now, the circulars - which detail ministry regulations on a wide variety of subjects, such as parental payments, school trips and safety rules - have been issued only in Hebrew.
In June, Haaretz reported that Arab parents’ committees had complained about this situation. This month, Education Ministry Director General Dalit Stauber responded with a promise that the problem would be fixed.
“I’ve held discussions with ministry professionals, and it’s been decided that starting from the 2013-14 school year, the director general’s circulars will be published both in Hebrew and in Arabic,” she wrote. Nevertheless, in response to a query from Haaretz, the ministry said this would only apply to new circulars: Existing circulars will not be translated into Arabic. “This is an important first step,” said attorney Sunny Kalev, head of the Educational Rights Clinic at the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, who sent the parents’ letter of complaint to Stauber and received her reply. “But it’s not sufficient, because most of the director general’s circulars aren’t updated and reissued each year."
Not translating the previous circulars means these circulars will remain inaccessible to large parts of the Arab population, which hasn’t mastered the mysteries of the Hebrew language.
“It’s not clear why the ministry decided not to also translate the older circulars that are still in force, or at least the most important of them, which have a clear impact on the rights of parents and students,” he added.
“We’ll consider turning to the courts on this matter, with the goal of getting at least the most important circulars published in Arabic as well.”
Attorney Noga Dagan Buzaglo of Hila - For Equality in Education said she was “very happy that the new circulars will be translated, but the old circulars should be translated as well. Most of the regulations concerning students’ rights, like referral to special education, discipline and punishment, suspension from school, school safety and busing - all these appear in old circulars that won’t be translated, and there are parents who can’t read them.
“Hila has begun to translate director general’s circulars, but it’s not reasonable that we should have to do this,” she continued. “If we’ve managed to do this on our own over the last year, I’m certain the ministry can as well.”
Once translated, Dagan Buzaglo added, the circulars should be posted on the ministry’s website to make them accessible. Today, she said, it’s very hard to find copies of them.