As Israelis start new school year, 3,000 Bedouins are still stuck at home

Some 3,000 children from the unrecognized Bedouin village of Wadi al-Na'am were forced to stay home, as the rest of the country's youth made its way to schools earlier this week.

bedouin children 88.298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
bedouin children 88.298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
While Israel's school year officially started on Tuesday, students from the Bedouin village of Wadi al-Na'am in the Neve Midbar Regional Council were forced to stay at home for the third day in a row due to transportation issues, according to Walla! News. The report stated that transportation services to schools located outside the area constituting the regional council were canceled, forcing about 3,000 children to stay home from school
The residents of Wadi al-Na'am blame the Neve Midbar Regional Council, which they claim, decided to stop the shuttles services from the village to the schools in the area.
"The kindergartens and schools are all located in one area," said Nigev Abu Bnaya, a resident and a member of a local teacher's committee. "The regional council stopped providing shuttles to the schools," he added.
The decision, according to Abu Bnaya, was made about a month ago. He added that the schools are not connected to the internet, nor do they have computers, which has prevented the model of distance learning from being implemented during the pandemic.
As it stands, it seems as though the Neve Midbar Regional Council and the Education Ministry are sharing the responsibility for dealing with the issue, with each entity blaming the other for the situation reaching this point.
The Neve Midbar Regional Council views three schools as problematic because they are not under the jurisdiction of the council. "They are located on an area that falls under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry, and the schools belong to the Education Ministry," a statement from the council read.
"The Neve Midbar Regional Council has been running the three schools in question according to a contract that is renewed every year and allows each side to agree to not renew the contract," the statement added.
The council claims that the Education Ministry did not uphold the contract's requirements of improving the conditions in the schools, including installing proper infrastructures and connecting the schools to a permanent electricity source rather than relying on generators, which resulted in the council notifying the ministry that it won't be renewing the agreement, meaning that the schools would fall under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry once again.
The Education Ministry responded by stating that it is committed to every Israeli child, including children in the Bedouin community.  
"The Education Ministry sees a great importance in providing education services to the children in the area, and so, a designated budget has been allocated for building new schools for the sake of the students," the statement read.  
The statement added that the plans are being postponed because of reasons that are out of the ministry's control.
"The Education Ministry regrets the unfortunate decision of the Neve Midbar Regional Council to back off from its responsibility of providing services to the schools in the area, but the ministry is currently negotiating with the council in attempts of solving the issue."