On March 13, 2013, five families in Kiryat Tivon, belonging to the Ein Bustan Bi–lingual initiative, will be
prosecuted in a Local Court on charges of "failure to fulfill parental duties." This is because they have chosen to educate their children in a class of Ein Bustan, which has yet to be recognized by the Ministry of Education.
This is the second blow to the public establishment of this unique educational project, as two months prior, in the wake of threats and intimidation from the establishment to families from Bosmat Tivon, four Arab families had left the project.
The Ein Bustan Non-Profit Association of bilingual Arab-Jewish co-education was established by Arab and Jewish parents from the Lower Galilee in 2005. These parents chose to educate their children for co – existence, as a way of life. The organization views diversity and plurality as strengthening advantages and educational resources, and believes that in order to learn how to respect the other, it is better to live in close proximity and interact with one another, starting in infancy.
For the last eight years the Ein Bustan Association has been operating kindergardens and nurseries for toddlers of a mixed population of Arabic and Hebrew speakers from Kiryat Tivon, Basmat Tivon and other neighboring communities. From a small group of 15 children, the groups of Ein Bustan have grown and expanded and as of today include 70 Arab and Jewish children between the ages of two to eight years. The Ein Bustan kindergardens are recognized and budgeted partially by the Ministry of Education (yet the budget is still mostly funded by tuition fees and donations from supporters worldwide). Over the years the Association has acquired a reputation among the local population, and the initiative has also won a prize for an outstanding education initiative for tolerance and co-existence (Oranim Conference - Sakhnin).
The educational uniqueness of Ein Bustan, aside from being multi-cultural and bilingual, is that it operates under the principles of the Waldorf Education and holds an emphasis on listening, respecting and the acceptance of others.
Ein Bustan community members believe that this education provides children with the tools necessary for life in a multicultural society such as exists in Israel today, as it serves as a bridge between cultures, and as such, is essential for the creation of an egalitarian society.
The success of the kindergartens and the growth in the demand for such education initiatives among the local communities was naturally followed by a desire and need, amongst the children's families, for continuance. The families wanted the development of the obvious continuity to the kindergartens – i.e. a bilingual school.
During the past two years, the Association has worked diligently to find a way to open a joint Arab Jewish class, in accordance with the law. Efforts were made to open the first grade within existing institutions, already authorized by the Ministry of Education. But when these options were rejected at the last moment by the Ministry of Education last summer, the families requested instead to continue to educate their children via home schooling (a framework which enables thousands of families every year to educate their children according to their values and worldview / faith).
The homeschooling solution was perceived as an interim solution while the Association continued to work diligently for receiving the approval of the establishment to instead open an independent school. A formal request was sent to the Ministry of Education, for the following school year.
Due to the lack of cooperation from the Ministry of Education and the local authority this right was also denied to the Ein Bustan families. Ein Bustan parents were left with a hard feeling that the establishment prefers to separate Jews and Arabs who want to educate their children together bilingually and in an educational equality.
It should be emphasized that there is no other school, recognized by the Ministry of Education, which offers such a joint education, anywhere in the vicinity.
We wish to stimulate the decision makers and bring to their attention that the joint education is of first-rate importance, and that the right to education of equality and acceptance of others is in the common interest of a wide public, and not only a handful of families.
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