ACRI demands education institutions for village of Rachma

ACRI urgently appealed on behalf of a group of 120 children in the village of Rachma who have no viable educational institution, and called for the lifting of planning obstacles be enable the establishment of a school in an alternative location.

Mr. Dudu Cohen, Director of the Ministry of the Interior in the Southern District
Ms. Gila Nagar, Director of the Ministry of Education in the Southern District

Re: The Establishment of Educational Institutions for the Children of the Village of Rachma in Yerucham

We are writing to you on behalf of approximately 120 students between the ages of three and eight years old from the unrecognized village of Rachma, which is located next to the town of Yerucham in the Negev. This letter serves as a follow-up to written correspondence conducted by Mr. Uda Zanun, who chairs the village’s local committee, requesting the removal of the of the planning obstacles placed in the villagers` path, and assistance in finding an alternative location to establish a school for the children who live in this village. The majority of the village residents live within the jurisdictional territory of the Yerucham municipal authority as will be detailed below:

1. The unrecognized village of Rachma is located in close proximity to the Yerucham municipal authority, and many of its residents reside within its jurisdictional boundaries. Approximately 1,200 people reside in the village, the majority of whom are commissioned army personnel, or live off an army pension, and have resided in the area for more than 40 years.

2. To date, no educational institutions have been established in the village, and the children are forced to travel a distance of 25km in each direction in order to study either at the Al-Hashula school in Gasar Al Sar, or at the local school in Wadi Al Na’am. In addition, the children have to walk a further kilometer to reach the pick-up point. The result is a high dropout rate among the local children, primarily those in kindergarten and the lower grades.

3. The Yerucham local council expressed its willingness to allocate two alternative plots within its jurisdictional area for mobile structures to be used as an elementary school for some 120 children (including ninety children from the ages of three to six who are not currently registered at any educational institution, and an additional thirty children between the ages of seven and eight who are registered at a school but are absent for most of the year due to the untenable distance that they are forced to travel in order to reach it). As far as we know, one of the sites is planned for agricultural usage, and the second as an industrial site.

4. To the best of our knowledge, the appeals by the committee and its chairman to state agencies responsible for ensuring the right to education for the children residing in the unrecognized village, were met by an absolute refusal to establish the mobile structures, which are to be used as classrooms, within the jurisdictional territory of the Yerucham local council.

5. It should be emphasized that the right to education is a basic right that state agencies are obligated to protect. The immediate realization of the right to education in a location that is accessible to the children should not be dependent upon the resolution of the larger issue of finding a permanent and viable settlement and planning solution. Ordinance 40 of the regulations governing compulsory education (registration), 1959, clearly stipulates that municipal authorities are obligated to open an educational institution wherever at least 100 children do not have an educational solution. This obligation also applies to state planning authorities. Ordinance 7 of the regulations states that the distance between an educational institution and the child’s place of residence must not exceed 2km; as previously stated, the distance in the case of Rachma is far greater than this.

6. Government decision no. 4415 on 20 November 2005 (The National, Strategic Negev Development Plan) states that the classrooms that are currently lacking should be built, and that their construction should not be dependent upon the resolution of the larger land issue.

7. In light of that set forth above, we respectfully ask for your assistance in finding a suitable location – of the two sites that were offered, or an alternative location – to ensure the realization of the right to education for the children of Rachma. We also ask that this be done before the upcoming 2007 school registration, which begins in April.

Yours Sincerely,

Attorney Banna Shougri-Badarne

last updated : 25/01/06

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Categories: Arab Citizens of Israel, Human Rights Education, Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages, The Right to Equality

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