|Bedouin children’s strike wakes up education officials|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
After parents’ desperate attempts to force their children’s schools to address grave health and safety hazards failed, parents of two schools for Bedouin children in Israel’s Negev called a strike.
The strategy yielded immediate results: on the first day of the strike, education officials toured the school and the next day a contractor began to implement repairs.
SHATIL’s Forum for Arab Education in the Negev guided the parents in their successful struggle, helping them to write letters to the authorities and to plan the strike when the letters were ignored.
“SHATIL’s help was huge,” Musa Abo Bneh, chair of the Wadi el Na'am Parents’ Committee and a member of SHATIL’s Forum for Arab Education in the Negev, told NIF News. “From writing letters to strategizing, to help in contacting the media, SHATIL was by our side 24/7 and helped us achieve a solution. SHATIL is awesome!”
Parents of the more than 2,000 pupils in the two schools and 14 preschools in the unrecognized Bedouin village Wadi el Na’am kept their children out of school on Sunday and Monday in protest. The hazardous conditions they were fighting against included a lack of flushing toilets that led children to relieve themselves in the yard; broken windows; exposed wiring; water leaking into the schoolyard; desks and buses in poor repair and more.
The decision to strike came on the heels of a visit to the school by members of the Forum. As soon as word of the strike hit the media, representatives of the Ministry of Education phoned the parents and asked for a meeting -- which was held the same day.
On day two of the strike the group, as well as the official in charge of school safety for the southern district and a contractor visited the school to see the deficiencies for themselves. At the end of the visit, it was decided that repairs would begin immediately and the contractor is beginning work at the school as we go to press.
In light of the quick response, parents ended their two-day strike and the children were back in school on Tuesday.
A similar development occurred two weeks ago, when a strike by the parents of the El Azzam School in the village of Abutlul, which is in the process of becoming recognized, led to the immediate repair of a number of safety and sanitation problems. This protest was also guided by SHATIL’s Forum for Arab Education in the Negev.
Both schools have very few computers and air conditioners and teachers lack basic equipment. The parents’ committees in the schools gave the Ministry of Education until January to bring the situation up to the standards the Ministry upholds in other schools.