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Ministry aims to reduce radiation in schools
By Lidar Gravé-Lazi
20/03/2014
A direct, not wireless, cable connection has been encouraged in classes where computers are part of the lessons.
 
The Education Ministry instructed all schools to perform radiation tests in accordance with the Environmental Protection Ministry’s guidelines, Noam Koriat, an official at the Education Ministry, said.

Koriat, director of the ministry’s Organization, Development and Knowledge Management Department, made these remarks at a Knesset Education Committee meeting convened on Wednesday to discuss the issue following complaints by parents and parent organizations.

Preschools and kindergartens have banned the use of wireless networks and second- and third-grade classes have restricted Internet use to one hour per day. A direct, not wireless, cable connection is encouraged in classes where computers are part of the lessons.

Schools are in the process of converting their wireless infrastructure to cable connections, Koriat said.

The Environmental Protection Ministry will randomly check schools as part of its responsibilities and as a regulator, Sam Kaplan, the ministry’s director for ICT infrastructure and scientific technologies, said.

“I am pleased the Environmental Protection Ministry responded positively to our appeal. We will implement a budget transfer and begin to perform the tests to correct deficiencies,” he said.

Kaplan does not expect an end to the tests and said they would be carried out periodically, he said when asked by committee chairman MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnua). He added that it was a question of budget and that he was unaware how much the Education Ministry would decide to allocate to this issue.

Parents who participated in the discussion complained that they believe their children are exposed to radiation on a daily basis from wireless computer networks in school, electricity and cellular antennas. They explained that their children suffer from frequent headaches, tingling feelings in the body and skin rashes. These symptoms fade when their children are on vacation, they say.

The mother of a 12-year-old girl from Tel Aviv said her daughter suffers from headaches and needs to take painkillers every day.

“The Education Ministry is willing to sacrifice the health of our children for pedagogical flexibility,” she said.

To conduct radiation inspections in 1,000 schools next year, approximately one quarter of all educational institutions in Israel, would cost around NIS 250,000, according to MALRAZ – Council for the Prevention of Noise and Air Pollution in Israel.
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