Ethiopian Jews can now send their children to private
schools, thanks to the Israeli government and people like Sewnet Workineh, who
joined in public protests against schools that barred Ethiopian children.
Workineh, a poor Ethiopian farmer from Gondar who moved with
his family of six to Israel three years ago, joined a recent public
demonstration against state-supported religious schools that had denied his
sons admission because they were Ethiopians.
As a result of the
demonstrations, Israel's ministries of foreign affairs and education recently
forced the private religious schools to accept Ethiopian students or lose
public funding. Prime Minister Shimon
Perez also criticized the schools for banning Ethiopians.
"I don't want them to grown up as peasants like I did," said
Sewnet. "I was worried my children would not get the best education they need
to succeed," he said.
Sewnet says there is a common bias against Ethiopian
students that they are mentally inferior in the schools in Israel. "Our
children do not speak the language, they are adjusting to a new way of life and
a different education system, they are expected to have a slow start," Sewnet
said. "Given time I have no doubt that our children will catch up."
He was interviewed by
Konjit Taye and Henok Fente of the Sunday Mestawot show. They also talked to Rahmin Alazar, an Amharic
broadcaster for Radio Israel about the education controversy.