Following Petition Filed by Adalah and the Association for the Development of Arab Education in Haifa, First Grade Class Opens for Arab Children at the al-Karma School for the Arts in Haifa

Intensive negotiations undertaken by Adalah on behalf of the Association for the Development of Arab Education in Haifa with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Municipality of Haifa have resulted in an agreement to open a first grade elementary class at the al-Karma school for the arts in Haifa, from the beginning of the coming school year (2008-2009).

According to the agreement reached by the parties, the students in the class will take art and music classes taught by qualified teachers specialized in these fields, in addition to ordinary subjects. These classes will be taught for three hours weekly, and will be funded by the MOE. If their parents so wish, it will also be possible for the children to take an additional three hours of arts-based classes for a nominal fee (327 Shekels per year) per pupil. The parents of children from low-income families will be able to apply to the committee of fee reductions within the Haifa Municipality.

The agreement provides a solution to for children who completed their studies at the al-Karma preschool for the arts. These children will now have the opportunity to continue studying the arts in the first grade of their elementary education, in addition to new pupils interested in learning the arts.

In response to the agreement, Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn, who represented Adalah and the Association for the Development of Arab Education in Haifa during the negotiations with the MOE and the Haifa Municipality, stated that the agreement responds to the desire of the children’s parents to create a special arts-based educational framework for their children. She further stated that the continuity in education in the arts that will now be provided to children from preschool to the first grade lends support to the legal and popular struggle for the establishment of a special Arab school for the arts in Haifa.

The negotiations followed a petition filed to the Supreme Court by Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher on behalf of Adalah and the Association for the Development of Arab Education in Haifa in August 2007 to demand the establishment of an official, special Arab school for the arts be opened in Haifa. On 4 August 2008, the Supreme Court decided that given the difficulties entailed in opening such a school for the coming academic year, the two sides must find immediate solutions for the children who have been studying at the Arab preschool for the arts in Haifa in the past year, and who will shortly enter the first grade. The court therefore ordered the two sides to enter promptly into negotiations – during August 2008 – over the curriculum to be studied by these children during the coming academic year, as a temporary solution designed to secure educational continuity. The two sides were also ordered to negotiate over the educational space proposed by the MOE and the Municipality of Haifa, and submit a report on the negotiations in November 2008.