[Huge] Education gap divides Jerusalem into East and West

By Nir Hasson, Haaretz – 1 Sept 2009

[IOA Editor: The title of the original news story in Hebrew is: “An East Jerusalem student costs the municipality NIS 577 – in the Western City NIS 2,372”]

Gaps in education standards between East and West Jerusalem schools continue to widen, according to a human-rights group report released on Tuesday.

The document, penned by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and the Ir Amim non-profit organization, indicates that the eastern part of the city lacks some 1,000 classrooms, and that half the classrooms and preschool facilities there do not meet health and security standards.

Moreover, over 5,000 school-age students in East Jerusalem are not registered for school.

“You can see some of these children lifting cases in Mahane Yehuda market, and some others sell cigarette lighters at intersections,” said Meretz city council member Meir Margalit.

“There is a law for mandatory education – the state cannot sit quietly when thousands of students are unaccounted for,” he added.

The report states that 30,000 other students are forced to seek private education due to a lack of public schools.

Deep discrepancies in school systems

Figures obtained by Haaretz show a deep discrepancy between the education systems’ budgets in East and West Jerusalem.

Last year, NIS 577 was spent on each primary school student in the predominantly-Arab eastern section of the city, compared with NIS 2,372 for a student in the mainly-Jewish western part. In preschools, spending per student in West Jerusalem was 2.7 times that of East Jerusalem, and in special education 2.5 times.

Sources at the Jerusalem municipality said recently that the city is seeking to close those gaps.

They said 248 classrooms are currently being built in East Jerusalem, and that the shortage of facilities stems from a lack of area designated for classroom building.

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