11 October 2011

Adalah: The Israeli Government Fails to Implement Supreme Court Decisions concerning Arab Bedouin Schools in the Naqab

Nearly six years ago, in 2005, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Education Ministry and the Transport Ministry to open and pave a safe road and junction connecting the schools of the Arab Bedouin unrecognized village al-Fur’a in the Naqab (Negev) to the main road. Despite this ruling, there has been no change on the ground. Currently, the only way for the hundreds of students and dozens of teachers from al-Fur’a and the nearby villages to reach the schools is by a dangerous dirt road. The court’s decision followed a petition submitted by Adalah in 2005 on behalf of the parents of the students who study in the schools (see HCJ 6673/05, Ali Afnan Jabouah, et. al. v. Ministry of Education, et. al.).

On 5 October 2011, Adalah Attorney Rami Jubran submitted another petition to the Supreme Court demanding that the state immediately implement the 2006 decision without further delay, and that the court consider the state’s inaction to constitute a contempt of court and impose a high fine. In the motion for contempt of court, Adalah emphasized that the dirt road is narrow and dangerous and poses a real threat to the lives of the children and teachers who use it every day on the way to their schools. On rainy winter days, the dirt road becomes washed out, making it inaccessible for cars and school buses; the schools frequently close in the winter due to this lack of safe transport. Adalah argued in the new petition that the lack of a safe road to the schools and the loss of teaching days directly violate the students’ constitutional rights to education and equality.

Educational Counselors & Truant Officers

Adalah Attorney Rami Jubran sent a letter to the director of the southern district of the Education Ministry on 2 October 2011 demanding the implementation of a Supreme Court decision issued in 2009 concerning the appointment of educational counselors in the schools of the government-planned Arab Bedouin towns of Rahat, Segev Shalom, Hura, A’rara, and Lagiyya in the Naqab (see HCJ 4177/04, Yusef Abu-Abied, et. al. v. Ministry of Education, et. al.).

The court delivered this judgment following a petition submitted by Adalah on behalf of students’ parents in the different schools. The ruling ordered the Education Ministry to appoint educational counselors for the schools, and that in the absence of appropriate staff to work in these schools, the Education Ministry must establish special training courses to prepare educational counselors. Correspondence between Adalah and the Education Ministry shows that despite the court’s decision concerning the five schools, only one school received an educational counselor and that no training programs were established. Adalah argued that the Education Ministry’s failure to comply with the court’s decision constituted a contempt of court, and that the ministry immediately implement the court’s decision in this regard.

Further, Adalah sent a letter to the Attorney General and the Education Ministry on 2 October 2011 demanding the implementation of a 2005 Supreme Court judgment ordering the appointment of truant officers (those who monitor drop-outs and pupils at risk of dropping out of school) in the different Arab Bedouin schools in the Naqab (see HCJ 6671/03, Munjid Abu Ghanem, et. al. v. Ministry of Education, et. al.). Adalah Attorney Rami Jubran emphasized in the letter that the court’s decision, issued following a petition by Adalah, clearly demonstrates discrimination against the Arab Bedouin schools in the Naqab. Today, six years after the court’s decision, the Education Ministry has not appointed even one truant officer to these schools; in fact, the overall number of truant officers working in the Arab Bedouin schools has decreased despite the percentage of student drop outs in these schools being the highest in the country.

The letter contained new information from the Knesset’s Research and Information Center highlighting that in the school year of 2009/2010, the percentage of truant officer jobs in the Arab Bedouin schools declined. For example, in 2009/2010, only 12% of the jobs were actually filled (6 jobs out of 50 that should be filled in the Arab Bedouin villages) as compared to 17.5% in 2005 (6 jobs out of 46 that should be filled). The research also showed that the dropout rate for Arab Bedouin students is much higher than any other place in the country, especially among girls; this makes the need for truant officers even more urgent. Thus, Adalah requested the Education Ministry to immediately implement the court’s decision and to allocate truant officers jobs as required by the law and to work on finding suitable staff for these positions as soon as possible.