West Silwan elementary school 521.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman: West Silwan elementary school)
Seven hundred students at the largest elementary school in east Jerusalem’s
Silwan neighborhood are staying at home until at least Thursday because the
school has no electricity and it is simply too cold to learn, the head of the
Silwan Parents’ Committee said on Tuesday.
Students at Silwan Elementary
School were on winter vacation for the past three weeks, and sometime during
that period, water dripped onto the main electric box.
But when students
returned on Sunday, it was so cold in the building that they were sent home
after half a day, said Faris Khales, the head of the parents’ committee, who has
two children at the school.
The committee said the students would stay
home until the electricity problem was fixed, because the water was still
dripping onto the electric box. The school has been without electricity for
approximately 20 days.
“It is a really dangerous situation. It’s
very dark and there are electrical shortages,” said Khales. “We don’t want the
kids to miss classes, but their lives are more important.”
spokeswoman said the city had dealt with the problem previously but that it had
recurred over winter break. She added that the city was “working intensively” to
find a permanent solution.
Khales said that the city engineer had
promised a crew would look at the problem on Wednesday, but insisted that there
had to be more than a temporary fix.
Like many other east Jerusalem
neighborhoods, Silwan suffers from a severe shortage of classrooms. The
classrooms that do exist have serious infrastructure problems, including exposed
wires, broken and cracked courtyards, and areas filled with trash.
Jerusalem lacks an estimated 1,000 classrooms. This year, the municipality is
building 42 classrooms in Arab neighborhoods.