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East Jerusalem Schools: Failing Grade

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East Jerusalem Schools: Failing Grade

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Israel denies Palestinian schools essentials to teach properly.

by Stephen Lendman

In August, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) released a report titled "Failed Grade: East Jerusalem's Failing Educational System." It's grim reading. It shows how Palestinian children are  marginalized and deprived.

For tens of thousands of E. Jerusalem children, school began in late August. Inadequate educational services are provided. It's underfunded and substandard. Kids deserving better don't get it.

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Unsuitable classrooms are provided. Some are in residential buildings. Thousands don't get the chance for school at all. Around 40% of others end up dropping out before graduating.

Education is supposed to be free. Many families have to pay tuition to unofficial learning institutions. Most can't afford it but do it anyway. Nearly 80% of the population is impoverished.

Intolerant conditions persisted for years. In 2012, the Jerusalem Educational Administration (MANHI) lists 88,845 E. Jerusalem children aged 6 - 18.

According to Jerusalem Municipality population registry figures, the city has 106,534 between those ages. Far reaching consequences result. Classroom capacity and new construction plans can't accommodate everyone needing education.

Conditions are contrary to Supreme Court directives. Numerous times over the past decade, the Ministry of Education and Jerusalem Municipality were ordered to provide free education for every Palestinian child.

They're permanent State of Israel residents. Israeli and international law mandate their right to free education. Thousands don't get it. City and education ministry officials know it. They promised to address discrepancies. Follow through wasn't forthcoming. It's not happening now.

At the same time, policy initiatives exacerbate the problem. East Jerusalem land is stolen. Residents are displaced. Settlement development is prioritized. Palestinians end up denied. Over a thousand needed classrooms aren't available. Construction plans are woefully inadequate.

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Shortages are more severe considering the disparity between Municipality and education ministry population figures. Its size dictates resources allocated to accommodate it. As a result, thousands of kids are left out and cheated.

According to one assessment, 2,827 children from grades one through 12 don't attend school. It's based on MANHI figures. Municipality figures show over 20,000 school aged kids are denied. If five year olds are included, "numbers soar even higher."

Some families send their children to West Bank schools. They have no other choice. Data discrepancies leave many questions unanswered. More troubling is that authorities have no answers.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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