Following Adalah's petition, after-school programs in Arab villages are expected to be subsidized next year

Israeli Supreme Court ordered the State to pay fees in a petition filed on behalf of parents from Palestinian Arab villages in Misgav Council, after the Ministry of Education announced that it was working to change the current budgeting model that led to their discrimination.

On 11 October 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling on the petition filed by Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel along with the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education, on behalf of four residents of Palestinian Arab communities in the Misgav Regional Council. The parents demanded their contributions to their children's participation in the “Nitzanim” national after-school education program be calculated based on the socioeconomic cluster of their specific villages rather than on average data for the region.  

 

According to the budgeting method used today, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel living in towns in the Misgav Regional Council are required to pay a monthly fee of NIS 450 per child registered in the Nitzanim program. However, parents in towns falling within the same socio-economic cluster but located in other regional councils pay only NIS 50. In the petition, filed on 6 September 2020, Adalah Attorney Aiah Haj Odeh argued that the current budgeting system both violates the constitutional right to equality in education and undermines the Israeli Education Ministry's explicit objective of the Nitzanim program to aid reducing social gaps. The petition further stressed the direct link between the provision of after-school educational services and the socioeconomic status of households.

 

CLICK HERE to learn more about the petition

CLICK HERE to read the petition [Hebrew]

 

In its preliminary response, the Ministry of Education stated that it had decided to reexamine the current budgeting model, but that the ministry could not commit to any particular result or timeline. The Ministry of Education argued that the Court should allow it to complete this reexamination process before considering the petition, and therefore there is no room for judicial intervention at this time.

 

Read the Ministry of Education's response to the petition from 3 December 2020 [Hebrew]

 

Following the hearing on the petition on 28 April 2021, argued by Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher, the Supreme Court asked the Ministry of Education to provide an update on the process of creating a new budgeting model. The Ministry informed that Court on August 15, 2021 that ministry officials were still formulating the details of the new model, and argued that because there would be a new model soon, the current petition is no longer relevant and should be deleted. Considering that the creation of the new budgeting model is contingent on the approval of the state budget, the Court accepted the state’s position, though the Palestinian families could file a future petition if the new model had a similarly discriminatory effect. The Court also awarded them attorneys’ fees and expenses, while acknowledging the petitioners’ contribution to clarifying the failings in the current budgeting model.

 

A new budgeting model that considers the socioeconomic clusters of villages and towns would have a huge impact on the accessibility of after-school programs for Palestinian children. According to 2017 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, a total of 21 Palestinians villages rated in clusters 1-3 (the lowest three ratings) are located within Jewish-majority regional councils with a much higher average rating (5-8). Parents from these villages therefore pay NIS 350-500 per month per child, as compared to NIS 50 for the Nitzanim program, under the current budgeting model.

 

CLICK HERE to read the court decision [Hebrew]

 

Adalah commented on the ruling:

"Only because of our petition did the Ministry of Education agree to reexamine its current budgeting model and the provision of subsidies for the after-school program, which, despite its intended policy to reduce socioeconomic gaps, actually widened them for Palestinian families in these villages. We will continue to monitor the situation, in order to ensure that a new model is implemented and to protect the right to equal access to educational services against discriminatory practices and policies based on national affiliation."

 

The Follow-up Committee for Arab Education added:

“Many unjust budgeting mechanisms violate the rights of Arab children in the field of education, and bring us to repeatedly turn to courts on behalf of parents and local authorities. Despite the changes we have been able to achieve over the years in the various struggles we have waged, the gap between Arab and Jewish education is still large, and our struggle to achieve our full rights continues.”

 

Case Citation: HCJ 6155/20 Masoud Souad v. Ministry of Education

 

Related Press Releases

Adalah & Arab villages petition Israeli Supreme Court for subsidized after-school kids’ programs 14 September 2020


Israeli Supreme Court: Israel has 30 days to explain why Arab communities don't receive development benefits enjoyed by neighboring Jewish towns 22 April 2021

 

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