On September 5, 2023, ACRI, together with the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, appealed (Hebrew) to the Ministry of Education and the head of the Regional Council of Neve Midbar. Our request was to immediately reinstate the transportation system for students in the unrecognized villages who receive education services and transportation from the council. The transportation system had been suspended since the beginning of the academic year due to budget and payment disputes between the council and the Ministry of Education.
As a result of the suspension, thousands of Bedouin students from the Negev were unable to attend educational institutions. In protest of the suspension, dozens of students from the village of Wadi Al-Na'am went to school riding camels and donkeys (video).
In our appeal, Attorney Abir Joubran from the Association for Civil Rights and Atiyah Al-Asem, the head of the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, emphasized that the suspension of the transportation system severely impacts Arab Bedouin students in the Negev. It infringes upon their right to education and equality, widens the significant educational gaps already existing between them and other students in the education system, and may even increase the risk of students dropping out, which is already significantly higher than among other students.
This is not the first time that the council's transportation system has been suspended. The appeal states that "one must be concerned that thousands of students have become bargaining chips between the Regional Council of Neve Midbar, the Ministry of Education, and transportation companies, at the severe expense of their right to education and equality in education, in contradiction to the principle of the best interests of the child."
Transportation services resumed on September 6, 2023, but regrettably, on October 24, 2023, we found ourselves compelled to revisit the Ministry of Education and the Neve Midbar Regional Council. This unwelcome recurrence stemmed from the suspension of classes for the third time since the commencement of the academic year, all due to financial disputes with transportation service providers. Collaborating alongside the Negev's Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages, Atid Bamedbar (Future in the Desert), the Forum for Coexistence and Civil Equality in the Negev, Shatil, and the Parent-Student Committees in the Neve Midbar Regional Council, we jointly called for an extensive revamp of the transportation system and a holistic solution to this pressing issue.
On November 7, 2023, we petitioned to the Be'er Sheva District Court along with peer organizations.
Appeal by the Association for Civil Rights and the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, September 5, 2023. (Hebrew)