The office of the State Comptroller Yosef Shapira will be reviewing charges of discrimination against the chareidi and Arab populations by the Education Ministry, which has announced that the free summer programs it is offering for Israel’s children will exclude chareidi schools and many Arab schools.
The review was begun in response to a complaint filed by MK Dovid Azulai (Shas), it was revealed at a meeting of the Knesset Oversight Committee on Tuesday.
Committee chairman MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) noted that last week Education Minister Shai Piron (Yesh Atid) appeared before the committee and refused to expand the program to include the two groups, and as such is responsible for flagrant discrimination and contributing to social division.
A representative from the comptroller’s office said the matter was being given priority, and that they had asked for urgent replies from the Education Ministry so that it could be resolved before camp starts next week.
Azulai told the committee that he had tried to contact Piron in a polite and respectful manner before the committee meeting last week, but was not even given the courtesy of a reply.
Piron, who appeared before the Oversight Committee a week ago, made no effort to conceal his contempt for the chareidi public, saying that those who choose to send their children to such schools cannot expect the ministry to fund them as it does other schools, and threatened to shut off funding for Chinuch Atzmai altogether.
In the chareidi schools, Piron claimed, the classes are smaller, they can choose their teachers, and so on. “Those who choose this path, that’s their right, but part of the price is loss of benefits from public education.
“In my opinion, the public school system must receive 100 percent funding; whereas the private system gets 0%. I will yet get there,” he threatened.
MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) responded that by law, Piron must fund all streams equally, and he has no right to withhold programs from chareidi children because chareidi schools are in a private education stream. He noted that his grandchildren learn in Chinuch Atzmai schools, where all the regulations and class size follow Education Ministry directives, and Piron was withholding funding from them too.
Rabbi Gafni said that the legal advisor of the ministry, who used to make its opinion against such discrimination known, has stopped doing so. He demanded that the legal advisor instruct Piron that “as long as it is the law, he has to fund Chinuch Atzmai fully.”