Adalah Demands that Education Ministry Connect 17 Arab Bedouin Schools in Israel with over 9,200 Pupils to Electricity

05/08/2012

(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) On 26 July 2012, Adalah sent letters to the Director of the Southern District of the Ministry of Education, Amira Hamim, and the head of the Abu Basma Regional Council in the Naqab (Negev), Rahmim Yona, demanding that they connect 17 schools in 10 Arab Bedouin villages to the national electrical network before the coming school term begins at the end of August. Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher argued in the letter that the schools operate on electric generators that do not provide sufficient power, either in amount or quality, for regular daily educational activities.


Over 9,200 Arab Bedouin students, citizens of Israel, attend these schools. There are 332 regular classes and 21 special education classes. The letter emphasized that these schools function in accordance with the master plans developed especially to facilitate the establishment of mobile buildings for essential services for the Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab. This means that despite the fact that some of the 17 schools are located in “unrecognized villages”, there is no planning reason that they should not be connected to the national electricity grid. The local authority responsible for education in all of these towns is the Abu Basma Regional Council.

Adalah emphasized in the letter that not connecting the schools to the electricity network prevents them from operating air conditioners regularly during classes; in fact, seven of the 17 schools do not have air conditioners at all although temperatures in the Naqab desert often exceed 40 degrees centigrade. The lack of air conditioning in the classrooms, or their only partial functioning, increases the difficulty of learning significantly, to the point that on very hot or very cold days, the principals are forced to cancel classes and send students home. The lack of electricity also prevents the establishment of other vital school amenities, including laboratories, computers, sufficient lighting, and libraries. Furthermore, the generators are noisy and frequently disturb the students and teachers. All these factors create a negative impact on the quality of education given to the students.

Attorney Zaher argued in the letter that the Arab Bedouin schools are the only schools in the country that are still not connected to the national electrical network. The lack of connection constitutes a violation of the students’ basic rights to equality in educational opportunities as well as their rights to dignity; it is discrimination on the basis of nationality.

In July 2009, Adalah petitioned the Supreme Court demanding that two schools in the Arab Bedouin village of Abu Tlul (for 1800 students) be connected to the national electrical grid. Adalah included an expert opinion of an electrical engineer to this petition, who stressed the harmful effects to students’ safety of placing the generators near the schools. After filing the petition, in November 2009, the state committed to connecting all the schools in the Arab Bedouin unrecognized villages to the national electricity network, in lieu of the power generators that currently provide electricity to the schools. Press Release 
Name Village # of students # of classes Special education? Air Conditioners?
1 Awrat Secondary Umm-Batin 282 9 Yes
2 Abu Kaf Umm-Batin 567 18 2 No
3 Al-Sanabel Umm-Batin 540 19 1 Yes
4 Waha Al-Nakhil Umm-Batin 774 26 2 No
5 Al-Atrash Alif Al-Atrash 874 29 No
6 Kohli Kohli 250 12 1 No
7 Abu Qarenat A Abu Qarenat 600 22 Yes
8 Waha al-Sahara Al-Zarnouq 900 32 Yes
9 Al'Azazma A Wadi al-Na'am 850 30 Yes
10 Al'Azazma B Wadi al-Na'am 807 28 Yes
11 Al'Azazma J Wadi al-Na'am 250 12 Yes
12 Alsayyid A Alsayyid 429 16 5 No
13 Alsayyid B Alsayyid 480 17 2 Yes
14 Alsayyid J Alsayyid 521 19 7 No
15 Beer Al-Mashash Beer Al-Mashash 508 19 Yes
16 Tel Arad Tel Arad 340 15 1 Yes
17 Abda Abda 232 9 No
UN ECOSOC