No student registration, high dropout rates, overcrowded classes and slow construction of new classrooms – these are only some of the failures characterizing the east Jerusalem education system, a report published Tuesday by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Ir Amim organization suggests.
According to the report, the dropout rate among senior high school students studying in east Jerusalem is 40%, while 17.3% of all students between grades 7-12 discontinue their studies.
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The report further indicates that out of 106,534 Palestinian children between the ages of 6-18 who live in east Jerusalem, only 88,845 are recorded in the education system. The authors of the report claim that authorities do not know where the remaining 24,000 children attend school.
Despite the gloomy findings, the report claims that the Jerusalem Municipality has not allocated the funds needed to improve the education system, and continues to discriminate between west and east Jerusalem in matters of infrastructures and budgets.
As for preschool education, the report indicates that only 800 out of some 15,000 east Jerusalem children between the ages of three and four were granted spots in public kindergartens ahead of the new school year – a figure that is in contradiction with a government decision to provide free education for children up to the age of four.
School in east Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood (Archives)
Furthermore, it was noted that only 33 new classrooms are slated to be built in the eastern part of town, despite a High Court of Justice ruling ordering the city to construct some 1,100 classrooms in east Jerusalem by 2016, in order to bring it up to par with the western side of the city.
In terms of classroom sizes, the report found that while in east Jerusalem the average number of students per class is 31.69, schools in the western part of town only have an average of 23.82 students per classroom.
The authors of the report noted that about half of the Palestinian students who take transportation to school live in neighborhoods located on the other side of the security barrier and are required to arrive independently at the checkpoint, where they are picked up and transported to school.
The Jerusalem Municipality stated in response to the report that "Mayor Nir Barkat has made unprecedented efforts to narrow gaps in eastern Jerusalem, which is evident by the construction of hundreds of new classrooms, investment in schools and quality of education.
"The municipality has invested over NIS 650 million (about $161 million) in education in the eastern part of the city. NIS 400 million (about $100 million) has been invested in the construction of new classrooms in an effort to reduce gaps which have formed over many years of neglect."
As for the high dropout rate, the municipality stated that it is dealing "for the first time in decades with the challenge of school dropout in east Jerusalem and is employing several measures to curb the phenomenon." The municipality further claimed that according to its own data, "the dropout rate among high school seniors is lower than 40% as was indicated in the report."
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