24,000 Palestinian Schoolchildren Unaccounted for by Jerusalem Education Administration

By: Mirah CurzerBy: Mirah Curzer

“Failed Grade” – a new report on education by Ir Amim and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

  • Conflicting official figures obtained for the report reveal that the Education Administration does not know whether or where 24,000 Palestinian children attend school
  • A shortage of at least 1,100 classrooms and a 40% dropout rate at the 12th grade level are the result of ongoing neglect and lack of sufficient budgetary investment
  • Rather than building new schools on the limited available land in Palestinian neighborhoods designated for public use, “national projects” are being promoted in these areas by the Israeli political establishment

Today (Tuesday, August 28, 2012), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Ir Amim published an extensive report on the dire state of education in East Jerusalem. Research for the report reveals a significant discrepancy in statistics: According to population registry figures provided by the Jerusalem Municipality, 106,534 children aged 6-18 reside in East Jerusalem. However, the Municipality Education Administration puts the overall figure of Palestinian children at the much lower number of 88,845, of which 86,018 children attend school.

Consequently, the Education Ministry does not know whether or where 20,516 children aged 6-18 attended school last year. In addition, 3,806 Palestinian children aged 5 (the starting age for compulsory education) did not attend kindergarten last year, amounting to over 24,000 children.

Other findings of the report:

“National projects” were promoted over the past year by the political establishment, including Mayor Barkat, at the expense of educational needs, on those few lands available for public use in Palestinian neighborhoods: a military academy complex in A-Tur; a tourist center in Silwan; a national park on the slopes of Mount Scopes blocking the development of nearby Issawiya and A-Tur; and schools for the “Kidmat Zion” settlement near Ras Al-Amud.

Classroom shortage: Only 33 new classrooms were built in the past year, despite a High Court ruling ordering that the ongoing gap of 1,100 classrooms in East Jerusalem must be bridged by 2016.

Censorship of books: A private company censors the books in Arabic used in municipal schools, after having won a municipality tender by “presenting the cheapest offer”.

Huge increase in unrecognized schools: Over the past decade there has been a 1400% increase in the number of Palestinian students attending recognized but unofficial schools in East Jerusalem, against the backdrop of the dire state of official schools.

Pre-kindergarten children: Only 5% of the 15,000 children in East Jerusalem aged 3-4 (800 children) will attend pre-kindergartens in the coming school year, despite a recent government decision to provide free education to all children aged 3-4.

Crowded classes: On average, there are 32 students per high school class in East Jerusalem, as opposed to an average of 24 per class in West Jerusalem.

Students behind the barrier: About half the students who take a bus to school (3,414 students) live in Jerusalem neighborhoods cut off from the city by the separation barrier. They are responsible for arriving independently to the checkpoint—located miles from their homes— before being able to access school buses from the checkpoint.

Att. Oshrat Maimon, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Ir Amim: “The right to education is more than a budget line or a resource handed down by the Municipality. It is a right that constitutes the very basis of a community and the future of its children. The authorities have deserted the right to education of tens of thousand of students in East Jerusalem, advancing a policy whereby one community is promoted at the expense of another community”.

Att. Nisreen Alyan of the Association of Civil Rights: “The Jerusalem Municipality and the Education Ministry must urgently enhance their investment in education in East Jerusalem. The High Court has given them five years to bridge the gap in classrooms and if this is not done, the authorities will be obliged to pay tuition instead of the parents. A third of the timeframe provided by the court has passed, and at this rate we will be obliged to go back to the courts”.

The full report: Failed Grade – East Jerusalem’s Failing Educational System

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Provision of Services, Publications and Campaigns, Right to Education

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