A kindergarten in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Gat is currently under lock and key after what has been alleged to be 21st-century racial segregation of children of Ethiopian descent in the school.
This was discovered after a mother posted online of how she had taken her toddler for her first day of kindergarten only to discover that the school had separate blocks for only Ethiopian kids and another for other kids.
The Times of Israel reports that Sefy Bililin’s viral Facebook post detailed how she had taken her 3-year-old daughter, Pri-el, to the school, only to be told that her daughter’s name was not on the registration list.
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Bililin added that she was then directed to a secondary kindergarten in the building that was accessible only through a separate door and which exclusively contained Ethiopian children.
“They separated my child only because of the colour of her skin,” she said.
Bililin was initially “confused” after she was met with the unexpected information that her daughter wasn’t registered and that she was probably with the “second kindergarten” class.
When she was made to check the separate building, she was shocked to find only Ethiopian-Israeli students inside.
Bililin wrote, “I haven’t been able to sleep since Sunday because of thoughts about where this generation is heading.” She added that these are young kids who “never did anything wrong in their lives.”
“It’s not right what they do to these little kids,” Bililin continued. “Because of the color of their skin they cannot mix with other children? My daughter is worth as much as anyone else. There’s no way in the world she will be apart from the other kids because of the color of her skin. She was born here, and she’s as good as anyone.”
A local news site, Walla, reported earlier that children had been assigned to kindergartens by a computerized system that sorted students “according to geographic area and parental requests for state and state-religious schools.” It rejected any claim that other criteria were being used.
After Bililin’s post went viral, several persons of repute and influence came out to condemn the practice, harshly condemning the kindergarten.
An opposition lawmaker for Blue and White MK, Pnina Tamano-Shata, wrote on Facebook that the Ethiopian community’s “children are no different from any other child in Israel.”
She added that she had received word from the Israeli Education Ministry that it was investigating the matter and that it would solve the problem “immediately.”
“Don’t you dare segregate our children. We will not let this pass in silence. Our children will grow up with full confidence that you and your workers will not separate and harm them because of the color of their skin,” she is quoted as saying.
So far, children at the school’s kindergarten have been allowed into other nearby daycare facilities, with local authorities offering transportation to those who live further away, said The Times of Israel.