Debris at Unfinished Bedouin School Forces Kids Indoors

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Waste is strewn across the courtyard of a Bedouin high school in the Negev.
Waste is strewn across the courtyard of a Bedouin high school in the Negev.Credit: Tom Mehager/Adalah

Students at a Bedouin high school in the Negev have been forbidden from entering their schoolyard at recess because construction waste has made it a safety hazard. The school, located in the village of Al-Atrash, has 280 students.

The building itself is brand new, but it wasn’t completely finished when the school year opened last September. So, even though it was finished enough for classes to open, the construction waste hasn’t yet been cleared away.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, recently began collecting complaints on the issue from parents. The parents said some construction work is still in progress, which endangers the students.

Moreover, they said, students were recently forbidden to go out to the schoolyard, and even sports classes are now being held inside. The local authority, Al-Kasum Regional Council, said this is because a fence blocking access to the dangerous section was recently removed.

Adalah found numerous safety hazards at the school that require immediate fixing. For instance, the footpaths leading to the school are unpaved and students can’t walk on them safely, it said. Moreover, the schoolyard is very close to a high-voltage wire.

The construction waste in the schoolyard includes scaffolding, jutting pieces of steel and exposed pipes, Adalah added.

The regional council said the contractor had failed to meet his deadlines, and the work was therefore behind schedule. The council said it is trying to meet with him to set a new deadline.

But it promised that “this very morning, a new fence will be erected to block off the area where the work is being done, so that students can go into the yard without fear.” It said the area was fenced off for several months, but recently “the fence was taken down by the contractor himself for unclear reasons.”

The Education Ministry’s southern district headquarters said that responsibility for school maintenance, including fixing safety problems, rests with the local authority.

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