For the past few weeks I have been working on a project revealing the horrid conditions of Palestinian education in the Jordan Valley. There are myriad reasons why the Palestinians in the Valley receive little to no help in the development of the educational system there; however, the main obstacle is the classification of nearly 95% of the Valley as Area C, meaning education is Israel’s responsibility and the PA is unable to do much for the schools. For the next few days I will be posting excerpts from my project, including profiles on four schools in the Jordan Valley as well as a look at how the Israeli occupation changes the lives of the Palestinian youth. See the post on Area C here, the legal right to education here, the role of the PA here and demolitions here. Unless noted, I took all the photos in this series when visiting the Valley.
[tweetmeme] The Ka’abineh school is located on a dirt path littered with boulders, divots and ditches. While navigating the obstacles of the path, the school is visible in the distance, sitting at the base of a large hill as well as an enormous Israeli water tank servicing the surrounding settlements. From the path to the school, temporary tents and tin shacks that serve as homes for the small Bedouin community can be seen dotting the brown landscape. From these modest homes, 66 children are educated in the Ka’abineh school, an L-shaped structure made from tin, concrete and small portable caravans.
Although the Palestinian Authority pays the salaries of the teachers and offers occasional teacher trainings, it is unable to provide any support for the meager infrastructure of the school. Located in Israeli controlled Area C, the Ka’abineh school has depended on the charity of independent organizations to build and maintain what little and fragile infrastructure currently stands. The building consists of three small, portable caravans and a number of concrete and tin structures as well as a small, separate bathroom holding four toilets. Although the infrastructure is small and entirely inadequate for an educational institution, the Ka’abineh school has received six demolition orders in the last three years for construction without an Israeli permit. In October of 2010, the recently constructed bathroom, the only one in the village, received a stop-work order and is likely to receive a demolition order. Unfortunately, legal improvement of the school is impossible as the community is consistently denied building permits.
Despite the inadequacy of the building, Ka’abineh’s students attend the school from first to ninth grade but are unable to complete their secondary education without traveling a great distance everyday to Al Auja or Jericho. Indeed, because of the financial limitations of the schools and the families of Ka’abineh, very few students are able to prepare for or take the important Tawjihi exam that is required for admittance into university as well as most employment opportunities.
Without electricity, the Ka’abineh school not only lacks the educational technology that is increasingly required, but also becomes unbearably hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. Although the school does own a generator, the cost of providing electricity to the school is prohibitive. In addition to lacking a computer or science lab, there is no library or canteen and the desks and chalkboards are small, old and decrepit. Although some charities have become more active in donating school supplies to the Ka’abineh village, the school remains far too underequipped and under-resourced to provide the children of the village with a suitable education.
Despite attending such a limited school, the students of Ka’abineh, dressed in blue and white uniforms, fill the area with laughter and shouts of excitement. Away from the main building, a class takes place in a plain concrete structure that doubles as a classroom and a shed. With rusted wire dividing the room in two, students read from old, worn-out textbooks, occasionally breaking out into laughter. Although the children and their education are victims of blatant violations of international law, few children in the village complain about the state of their school. Yet day after day, these children attend classes in sheds and shacks looking for a better future. It is the schools like Ka’abineh and the students that attend them that are slowly being forgotten and left behind as the unfortunate victims of Area C and the occupation.