During a stormy session of the Knesset Finance Committee on Sunday, committee chairman, MK Moshe Gafne, ordered halting NIS 900 million intended for the Finance and Education Ministries until they approve funding for the kindergarten teachers and children in special education programs.
The move is Gafne’s response to the Education Ministry’s refusal to end the discrimination against chareidi children in the special education system’s kindergartens which are ‘recognized but non-official’.
Gafne announced during the committee session that he will not permit the treasury to pull the wool over his eyes, insisting the discriminatory practice will end.
An inter-ministerial team of the Ministries of Finance and Education, established to work to match the conditions of special education children in the unofficial education system (recognized non-official) to those in formal education, for currently, it completely ignores the children of the special education kindergartens in the chareidi sector and referred only to the schools. 90% of kindergartens in special education that are not officially state-run belong to the chareidi sector.
According to the law, children of special education in an unofficial facilty are entitled to full equality regarding their conditions, such as children in special education in the official education system.
Harsh criticism against the Education Ministry was heard during the session, including “The ministry views the law as optional and not required and to date, since the beginning of the reform, these kindergartens have been excluded from the advanced reforms regarding the budget for the afternoon teaching staff”.
The WIZO organization that runs the special education facilities that are “recognized but non-official” (primarily the chareidim), has turned to the High Court of Justice last year against the Education Ministry, calling on the ministry to end the discrimination.
During Sunday’s session of the Knesset Committee, the teachers in the chareidi special-ed programs explain state funding is sporadic, as opposed to the special-ed in the official state schools, where funding is as it should be and the teachers are paid their salaries on a regular basis as should be the case. The same cannot be said in the chareidi sector.
Gafne decided to halt the NIS 900 million to the ministries until such time he sees the discrimination against the chareidi special-ed programs is halted.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)