School children in Moshav strike to study closer to home

It's day five of the student strike near Ashkelon.

The children of Moshav Ge’a striking out of school. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The children of Moshav Ge’a striking out of school.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For some 90 children in the Hof Ashkelon region, the school year has yet to start.
The children of Moshav Ge’a are refusing to attend their schools in a show of solidarity until their first-graders can study close to their homes. In the meantime, the moshav has established an alternative school that is nearing the end of its first full week of operation.
Despite Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s assertion that the 5777/78 school year started smoothly last Friday, Ge’a has been protesting the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council’s inability to provide the moshav’s children with a school close to home.
In June, the council told parents registering their first-graders for school that the school closest to the moshav, Hofim School, was filled to capacity and therefore they had to choose between two other schools in the region: Nitzan School in the far-north part of the Hof Ashkelon region, which is about a 40-minute commute, and Yesodot Silver, a relatively new school that is about a 10-minute drive from the moshav.
The parents unanimously chose to register their children at Yesodot Silver but were told by the regional council this was no longer an option and the children had to attend the far-away Nitzan.
Kineret Rozen-Edelman, an active member of the moshav, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the “option” of sending children to Nitzan was enough for the members of the some 400-family moshav to boycott the school system: “Nitzan is a 40-minute drive up Route 4 and [the commute] can be dangerous.” She noted a school bus had an accident last year on that same route. “Plus, the schools [Nitzan and Hofim] end at different times, which is very difficult for families with siblings. So we went to the regional council to fight for our children.”
According to parents from Ge’a, the regional council gets financial incentives for filling schools and their moshav provided, as Rozen-Edelman put it, “an easy solution because we usually don’t fight about things.”
With only a week to go before the first day of school, the parents petitioned the Education Ministry and staged two protests at the regional council’s offices.
“When the decision wasn’t changed, we established an alternative school that opened on Friday for about 90 kids from first to 12th grade,” Rozen-Edelman said.
The alternative school is a group effort, improvised learning institution that uses resources from the moshav including licensed teachers and a schedule focusing on agriculture, the humanities and community building.
Stressing that they have nothing against the Nitzan School, Rozen-Edelman explained: “Nitzan is a great school, it’s just that it is too far for us and not the best option for our children.”
Yitshak Yarom, a father of a first- and a second-grader, has mixed feelings about the strike.
“On the one hand, I’m amazed at the solidarity and the people who are fighting with us,” he told the Post. “There are high school students who are missing really important study materials because of the strike. There are pupils who need to start middle school and they aren’t going because of the strike, and all the people from the moshav are coming and helping. On the other hand, it’s very disappointing that we are striking for so long and we don’t get a proper response from the regional council or the Education Ministry.”
“We did not take this decision [to strike] lightly, it was very hard for all of us, but we don’t want our kids to be treated like numbers,” Yarom said.