Students attending the new high school in Abu Tlul, August 2012
(Beer el-Sabe, Israel) On Monday, 27 August 2012, the first high school opened in the Arab Bedouin village of Abu Tulul in the Naqab (Negev). The opening of the school is the result of a seven-year struggle conducted by the residents of the village and the surrounding villages and Adalah.
This year, the new school is comprised of four 10th grade classes. Next year the school is planned to grow and 11th grade classes will open; the following year, 12th grade classes are expected to open. 120 pupils study at the school, half of them girls and half of them boys from the village and its vicinity. Mr. Raji Alharam was appointed as the school principal, and seven teachers were engaged to teach at the school. The school is comprised of 12 caravans (pre-fabricated structures); four are used as homeroom classrooms, four will be used as general classrooms, and two will accommodate science and computer labs. Two caravans are set aside as bathrooms.
Approximately 12,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel live in the area of Abu Tulul. There are three elementary schools and one middle school in the area, attended by 2400 children. The absence of a local high school led to a sharp increase in the drop-out rates of high school students; these rates are significantly higher than the overall national average. Moreover, the traditional nature of Arab Bedouin society also led to higher drop-out rates among high school- aged girls, than high school-aged boys; families often do not permit girls to travel for far distances to attend high school, thus the location of the school is crucial.
The Abu Hadouba family from Abu Tulul donated the land on which the high school sits. Mr. Khaled Abu Hadouba, the father of one of the girls at the school and one of the parents who support the school declared: “We welcome the efforts invested by Adalah and the important achievement for the students, their families and the whole region. We are still at the beginning of the road but we hope to reap the benefits of the success of the school. We will do all we can to support the school.”
Mr. Atiyya Al-Aasam, chairman of the Abu Tulul local committee stated, "The combined effort of the local committee and Adalah has culminated in an important achievement. This is an important step forward, received with joy and the blessing of the residents. Opening the school spared the students a lot of difficulties, including long commutes and apprehension over whether or not they would be accepted to other schools, and it will contribute to decreasing the high drop-out rate. This is an important step, but it is not sufficient. The school is housed in caravans, not in a permanent building, and there are still no computers, air conditioners and other important equipment. We hope that the school registers more and more successes in the near future."
Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher stated, "We welcome the opening of the school. The establishment of the school in Abu Tulul provides a solution to the phenomenon of school drop-outs, particularly that of high school girls. It is regrettable that the Ministry of Education waited for such a long time, and forced us to spend so much time and to invest great efforts, in order to realize the pupils' basic rights."
In September 2009, Attorney Zaher submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of 35 girl students from Abu Tulul and on behalf of local organizations. In the petition, Adalah demanded that the court compel the Ministry of Education to implement the 2007 Supreme Court ruling ordering it to establish a high school in Abu Tulul and to open it by September 2009. The court’s ruling was based on the state’s own commitment before the court in 2007. In addition, Adalah demanded that the state’s non-implementation of its own commitment and the court’s ruling be considered as contempt of court.
The 2009 petition followed the first petition filed on this matter in 2005 by Adalah Attorney Moral El-Sana. In that case, then-Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir, committed to opening a high school in the Abu Tulul region no later than 1 September 2009 on the condition that the petition is withdrawn. However, the Ministry of Education did not comply with its commitment leading to the submission of a second petition in 2009.
Case Citation: HCJ 7562/09, Fatmeh Abu Sbeli, et al. v. Ministry of Education, et al.
For further information, see Adalah's 2009 Press Release: Education Ministry Ignores Israeli Supreme Court Decision Ordering the Opening of the First High School in Abu Tulul