Israel fails to provide promised school buses for Bedouin kindergarten students

Israel's mandatory education law obligates Education Ministry to provide 3-4 year-old children from unrecognized villages with access to kindergartens.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is demanding that the Southern District Prosecutor's Office order the Education Ministry to abide by its commitment before the Be'er Sheva District Court to provide school buses to kindergarten children from the Bedouin village of Al-Sira.

 

During an August 2016 hearing on a petition filed by Adalah calling for transportation for kindergarten children, state representatives announced that the Israeli Education Ministry would allocate 50 million shekels (approximately US$14.2 million) to construct a school transportation system to serve 3- and 4-year-old Bedouin schoolchildren living in unrecognized villages. The buses were meant to start on 1 September 2017, the beginning of the current school year.

 

The state also announced that school buses would begin operating even earlier, in March 2017, in the village of Al-Sira.

 

However, as Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher stated in her letter, sent on 19 October 2017, the Education Ministry is still not providing school buses for kindergarten children residing in the unrecognized villages, including Al-Sira:

 

"The obligation to establish and operate [school] transportation has not been honored and, since the opening of the school year, children aged 3-4 do not have access to kindergartens and have no choice but to stay at home all week with no access to education."

 

The Education Ministry is legally bound to provide children in this age group with access to kindergartens in accordance with the Compulsory Education Law, and providing transport to school for children who do not have access to educational institutions close to their homes is a means through which the state can fulfil this obligation.

 

Adalah has also separately appealed on behalf of the Al-Jaraf parents' committee to the Education Ministry's Southern District and the Al Qasoum Regional Council to demand they provide access to school for children aged 3 and 4 in the village.

 

Al-Jaraf is an unrecognized village of approximately 350 residents, including 20 preschool children registered in kindergartens in the town of Kseifeh. However, due to the lack of school transport, the children of Al-Jaraf are currently being forced to stay at home.

 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter about Al-Sira [Hebrew]

 

CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter about Al-Jaraf [Hebrew]