Adalah Files a Petition to the Supreme Court of Israel against the Government-Appointed Municipality in Segev Shalom (Shkeb) and the Minister of Education: 400 Children, 3-4 Years Old, Have No Kindergartens


Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel submitted a petition today, 1 December 1999, to the High Court on behalf of the Parents Committee in Segev Shalom (Shkeb) against the government-appointed Council and the Ministry of Education. Adalah demands that kindergartens be established for 400 Arab Bedouin children, in accordance with previously issued governmental-decisions. 

Segev Shalom (Hebrew) or Shkeb (Arabic) is an Arab Bedouin town located in the Negev (Nakab). Shkeb is one of the seven government-planned towns established to absorb the scattered Arab Bedouin community of more than 60,000 living in the Nakab. It is one of the poorest towns in the country, with one of the highest rates of unemployment and number of students who have dropped out of school. Shkeb has no elected municipality: a government-appointed mayor of the Shas political party runs the town. On 17 November 1999, the High Court ordered the Ministry of Interior to change the appointed mayor, as he was appointed based solely on his political affiliation. 

In July 1999, the Minister of Education added Shkeb to the list of towns that enjoy free education for 3-4 year old children. The Minister based his decision on the poor socio-economic condition of Shkeb. The Ministry of Finance supported the decision and allocated the appropriate budgets for the kindergartens, which were to be opened on 1 September 1999. 

In October 1999, the Municipality opened four pre-schools in Shkeb for 200 children. An additional two hundred (200) children, aged 3-4 years old, were excluded and remained without any facilities. The four kindergartens fell far below the minimum standards of operation set by the Ministry of Education, with overcrowded classrooms and play space. The Municipality closed the kindergartens on 3 November citing safety reasons. After protests by the parents, the appointed head of Shkeb Municipality repeatedly promised to repair and re-open the kindergartens by 22 November at the latest. To date, no kindergartens have been opened and all 400 children remain without any educational framework in Shkeb. 

Adalah argues, by Advocate Marwan Dalal, in its petition to the Supreme Court that the Minister of Education and the appointed-Municipality violated the children's basic right to education. Further, Adalah argues that the Minister of Education rescinded on his promise, sworn to in an affidavit filed with the Court, to open the kindergartens on 1 September and that all 3-4 year children will enjoy free education. Without any previous warning or any alternative arrangements considered for parents who cannot afford to pay for private kindergartens, 400 children are denied their right for education, afforded to all other 3-4 year olds in the country.