Thursday, December 15, 2005

Disenfranchised Bedouin youth

The Center for Information and Higher Education in the Naqab (Negev) presented troubling information as regards education among the Arab Bedouin of the Naqab. Only 2,000 Arab Bedouin graduate from high-school every year, and less than 10% thereafter enter institutions of higher education. In addition, approximately two-thirds of students change their program of study when at university/college, while a quarter of female Bedouin do not complete their bachelors.

Approximately two-thirds of Bedouin that do enter institutions of higher education do not succeed in English. Furthermore, on average a Bedouin student stays a year longer at an institution of higher education than his Jewish counterpart. (, November 23, 2005).

You need only to see the living conditions for Bedouin in the unrecognised villages of the Naqab to understand why the above is happening.

It's very shocking, and such a shame that youth are being deprived of a future. They have no present, and the only way to make a future would be through education - and they don't even have that made available to them.


1 comment:

John said...

"You need only to see the living conditions for Bedouin in the unrecognised villages of the Naqab to understand why the above is happening."

Have you ever met students from the unrecognized villages? Some of these kids are the brightest, and most ambitious among the Bedouin. I taught a kid who lived near an air force base (makes it hard to get a good night's sleep) but whipped everyone's butt in English. Don't turn them all into victims, because that suits your social justice narrative. I know Master's students and people with Ph.D.'s who grew up in unrecognized villages. By the way, there are great disparities from one "unrecognized village" to the next. I know someone living in an unrecognized village who has internet access, running water and solar power.

You have to remember that living in an unrecognized village is a choice made by many Israeli Bedouin (40 percent of the Negev Bedouin), because of diverse reasons. The state of Israel, not unlike its neighbours, wants all Bedouin to move into planned communities for reasons of efficiency (the provision of services), but also because it views the lands they consider tribal lands as state lands. The Bedouin in Israel, like their counter-parts in many Middle Eastern states, are in conflict with the state over land ownership. Whether you are on the side of the Bedouin or on the side of the state, please start treating the Bedouin as agents involved in a land conflict with the state, rather than as passive victims. Every Bedouin living in an unrecognized village has the choice of moving to a recognized Bedouin town in the Negev and of improving their living conditions. Those who choose not to do so have decided that they can manage quite well in their unrecognized village, thanks to generators, cell phones, school buses and their proximity to health clinics in near-by recognized villages. They've made a rational choice and calculated that the costs of moving outweigh the material benefits that they may attain.

Having spent the past three years in the Negev, I would go so far as to wager that the material conditions in which they live are less significant than other factors in determining the Bedouin's lower educational achievements (please note: contrary to what you may think, there is a veritable education revolution going on among Israeli Bedouin, especially Bedouin girls). Poverty is not the only factor that is keeping Bedouin students from being high achievers: the large size of Bedouin families, their parents' lack of education and the lack of good teachers in the Bedouin education system all make it more difficult for Bedouin students to succeed.