Peres initiates BGU extension at Rahat

President looks to close education gap for Beduin by expanding opportunities in the Negev via an extension of Ben Gurion University.

Shimon Peres 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shimon Peres 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
President Shimon Peres shared his vision of expanding educational opportunities for Beduin in the Negev during an official visit to Rahat on Monday.
Peres presented his initiative for a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev extension in the Beduin city to Mayor Faiz Abu Seheban, local leaders and some 250 young people, many of whom will be the beneficiaries of the president’s vision. He told the crowd he had already discussed the project with BGU President Rivka Carmi, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Planning and Budget Committee of the Council for Higher Education.
BGU subsequently prepared a plan for the establishment of such an extension and submitted it to the CHE’s Planning and Budget Committee.
Another meeting between representatives of the two entities is scheduled to take place in the near future. The aim is to make higher education accessible to all Beduin in the South, and in fact to anyone who wants to study.
Even though equality for all citizens is enshrined in Israeli law, Peres said that in reality there is discrimination. The president attributed this discrimination to the gap in earning capacity which is often determined by educational qualifications.
Peres envisages that the time will not be long in coming when the entire Negev undergoes a revolution in progress as ever increasing numbers of young people take advantage of the educational opportunities that are being offered to them.
“I see tremendous importance in making higher education accessible to the Beduin community,” said Peres, adding that better educated people will be able to secure better jobs in which they will earn more money and improve the quality of their lives.
“What will happen in the Negev, will be a symbol and a model for the whole country,” Peres enthused.
The president, who had been in close contact with the Rahat leadership regarding translating his vision into a new educational dynamic, said that he had found eagerness and goodwill on all sides.
A similar attitude prevailed with regard to the Idan Hanegev Industrial Park, which will provide thousands of new jobs.
While in Rahat, Peres also met with entrepreneurs and heads of local authorities to stress the message of how the industrial park will play a vital role not only in the lives of the Beduin but also in the lives of many people from all over the Negev.
Seheban, who along with the crowd welcomed Peres, expressed appreciation to the president for his years of commitment to the Beduin, especially during the period that he served as minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee, but also before and after.
It was Peres who oversaw the urbanization process of the Beduin in the Negev and it was Peres who paid special attention to educating the Beduin, Seheban noted, adding that it was no secret that Peres had a magic touch, and that projects that he initiated tended to flourish.
Seheban told Peres, and prize winning author Amoz Oz, who accompanied Peres on the visit, that he wanted to see the integration of female workers in the industrial park so they will feel that they are equal partners in the development and growth of the community.
The younger generation of Rahat is a different generation from its parents, Seheban continued. “It is more educated, more open, more modern with a broader perspective of the horizon.”
Seheban voiced his belief that in a relatively short time the whole region will experience change.