Law Passed to Prevent Discrimination in Schools Students in Kiryat Sharet high school in Holon take their matriculation exams. Photo: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90

December 4, 2000

The Knesset passes legislation proposed by Ehud Barak, who is Israel’s education minister as well as its prime minister, to prevent discrimination in schools and educational centers. The Pupils’ Rights Law draws on the principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and standards of human dignity to protect a national student body of diverse ethnic and religions backgrounds.

The legislation covers a variety of rights for Israeli students in a detailed 21-point plan. It declares that every child has a right to an education, may participate in matriculation examinations and has the right to confidentiality. The law forbids discrimination against students based on ethnicity, socioeconomic status or political alignment. It prohibits disciplinary action that would humiliate or punish them in extreme forms, as well as punishment based on parental actions. Before expulsion, students or their parents must be allowed to explain, appeal and be informed of the results. Students are expected to recognize that they have their own rights.

The law establishes hearing committees in every school district so that children who have issues with their schools can present their cases to local officials. A pupils council composed of adolescents also is created, giving students a chance to be heard by their peers.