Palestinian schoolchildren (R370).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Jerusalem has just two public schools for approximately 15,000 Arab students who
live outside of the separation barrier but within the municipality borders,
community leaders told mayor Nir Barkat on Monday.
The meeting, examining
at-risk youth in east Jerusalem, focused on comparing overall figures and
determining the success of current pilot programs for youths at risk of dropping
“No one is dealing with these students,” said community leader Abu
Ashraf, who represented parents from Kfar Aqab, Semiramis, Zughayer and
Sixty thousand Arabs, most of whom have Jerusalem residency, live
in four neighborhoods that are part of municipal Jerusalem, but are located on
the West Bank-side of the security barrier in an area roughly the size of the
Lara Mbariki, the municipality’s director of the Arab
educational system in east Jerusalem, acknowledged that most students are forced
to go to unofficial schools, sometimes run by the Palestinian
“All the construction there is without permits, so the
municipality can’t rent a building for a school,” she said. “There are no sports
fields because there are no building master plans plans so they can’t build
Abu Ashraf complained to the mayor that students were crowded
into private schools who were more interested in making money than providing a
decent education, but parents had no other choices.
“It’s true that
there’s a very high competition among private schools who are trying to make
money and we have no choice but to allow it,” said Mbariki.
acknowledged that there are significant problems in those areas and said he
would examine ways to address them.
Concerned parents from east Jerusalem
also pressured Barkat to open more after-school programs to keep children
occupied after school and out of trouble.
East Jerusalem has a staggering
40 percent drop-out rate.
Many female students drop out because they wed
before they complete 12th grade and the male students drop out to go to work.
Barkat said he would focus his efforts on tenth grade, which he deemed a
critical year for students. Those who finish 10th grade successfully are more
likely to finish high school, he said.
City Councilor Meir Margalit
(Meretz) who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, challenged Mayor Nir Barkat to
accept financial help from the Palestinian Authority and other Arab
organizations to run after-school programs for at-risk Arab youth.
remember growing up in Argentina, how the Jewish Agency helped [the Jewish
community] with after-school programs and their effect on me,” Margalit said. “We
need to ask the PA to be our partner to help fund these programs.”
said that he would not turn down any financial assistance but had not received
any offers from Arab organizations.