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Israeli-Bedouin students left behind over coronavirus

Israeli high schools and colleges offer online courses for students who are confined due to the coronavirus, but these initiatives are worthless for the Bedouin pupils who have little access to computers or fast internet in their villages.
Palestinian Bedouin pupils ride a donkey on their way to school in the village of Khan al-Ahmar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on September 6, 2018, after Israel's top court upheld an order to raze the village. - Israel's top court on Wednesday upheld an order to raze a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, after debating petitions challenging the decision. "We reject the petitions" against the directive to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, the supreme court panel said in its ruling, adding that a

The coronavirus pandemic is hurting everyone in Israel — rich and poor, Jews and Arabs — but poorer communities face much greater difficulties in dealing with its ramifications, including in education. When the whole education system in Israel — from preschool to high school to higher education — moved to remote learning by means of the internet, the gap between rich and poor grew wider because of the latter's lack of access to technology. This phenomenon is especially notable among the Arab Bedouin population in Israel.

Most of the Bedouin, about 250,000 (2017 figure), live in the south of the country. A fifth of them live in unrecognized villages without infrastructure. They are the poorest group in Israeli society, and as a result, their educational achievement is especially low. According to data of the Council of Higher Education published in February 2019, relating to the academic year that started in 2017, the rate of Bedouins who started studying for a bachelor’s degree was only 14%, compared to 46% of Jews. The rate of Bedouin students among Arab students was only 28% that year. While this is a large increase compared to the previous decade, this rate is still exceptionally low. According to Knesset data, the rate of matriculation among Bedouin students is 32% compared to 68% among the general population (excluding Bedouins and ultra-Orthodox Jews).

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