Students at Poor Israeli School Forced to Dodge Cars to Get From Class to Class

The students, many of them dropouts from elsewhere, have to cross the street between classes because, one student says, 'nobody cares about us.'

Or Kashti
Or Kashti
Or Kashti
Or Kashti

Rehovot’s WIZO technological high school has 500 students, most of whom couldn’t make it at other high schools in the area. The school has two main compounds, separated by a road that dozens of students cross, dodging traffic, every recess. Has this situation been allowed to persist for years because the school serves poor students?

The authorities vehemently deny this, but one student says simply: “We have to cross the street because nobody cares about us.”

On one side of Arlosoroff Street are classrooms for 9th to 11th graders, a few laboratories and workshops. On the other side are classrooms for 11th and 12th graders, a few more workshops, the library, the cafeteria and an assembly hall. A third complex, a few dozen meters away, contains the gym. So the kids have to wander between the two main parts of the campus every recess.

At each of the three daily recesses, a teacher is on duty to make sure the students don’t get hit by a car crossing the street. It’s not a main road, but there’s plenty of traffic.

Principal Yehudit Weitzenblit does crossing-guard duty almost every day. She has trouble explaining how the authorities – the Education Ministry, the Rehovot municipality and WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organziation) – have let the school operate like this for so many years.

The school was established in 1935 in the heart of Rehovot’s Marmorek neighborhood. Since 1963 it has operated as a technological high school under the Education Ministry. In 1996 it came under the joint management of the municipality and WIZO, which operates a few other schools throughout the country.

The school offers a track for taking the matriculation exams, as well as studies that award certificates in fields such as graphic design, fashion design and computers. Of the school’s 500 students, 150 are new immigrants or were born in Israel to parents from Ethiopia or the former Soviet Union.

“We came here after we dropped out of other places, so we know it’s not normal to have to cross the street to go to the library,” one student says, as a friend nods in agreement. Weitzenblit says alternatives have been discussed such as a bridge between the two compounds, closing off part of the street, but nothing ever came of it.

The Education Ministry and the Rehovot municipality told Haaretz they are working toward a solution and ask for patience. The municipality said that when the WIZO school system rented additional property from the Israel Lands Administration, the road was already built.

“In recent years, the city has moved ahead and approved a city master plan for the area of the school. To arrange passage between the compounds, a crosswalk has been painted, along with speed bumps,” a municipality spokesman said.

“There is no doubt that a solution must be found. To this end, a meeting has been set up, and a solution proposed by experts will be implemented as soon as possible.”

The Education Ministry said its regional supervisors are “working together with the city’s experts to find a solution that will ensure the students’ safety until the local authority’s plan is implemented.” But no details of the solution were provided. WIZO did not respond.

The crosswalk in Rehovot. Vocational school kids walk.Credit: Eyal Toueg

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