The village of Dkaika had an urgent need to support young students through the transition into high school and university by providing a school transport scheme. We help fund their project which helps students continue with their education by providing transport to the closest high school and university. Young women, in particular have benefited from this opportunity to continue
with their education as, prior to this they could
not travel safely outside the village.
The community is located on the last piece of land in the South as only few meters separate the community from the Green Line (as per the above map).
The vulnerability of the community stems from a number of factors including; A) The community has received more than 35 demolition orders in one day. B) The fact that the community is located in the furtherst point in the West Bank meant that a large number of the most basic services are not present including electricity and running water. C) The community is vulnerable to demolitions as 4 houses as well as a classroom were demolished in 2008. The demolitions can start in the near future as the Israeli occupation forces have rejected a Master Plan that would have (in case it was accepted) rendered all demolition order null and void, thus allowing building in the area. The fact that the Master Plan was rejected can be seen as a prelude for further demolitions. D) The community is suffering from high unemployment and poverty rates as it receives the lowest precipitation in the southern parts of the West Bank.
The community has one school that offers education only until the 6th grade. It is considered to be a landmark as it has allowed the community to survive through the provision of the very basic service of education. The problem lies in what comes after the 6th grade. The nearest school from which students can continue their upper level classes (7th grade to 10th) is located in the nearby community of Al Najadah (in yellow in the attached map). Students wishing to continue their high school education (11th and 12th grade) have to go to the community of Umm Al Khair (in green in the map). The long distance between these educational institutions and the rugged deserty road connecting it to the community of Dkaika has meant a daily trip on foot through the mountains. Such a trip has made the participation of (specifically female) students in the educational process less likely. According to a local source in the community, at least 9 female students ended up leaving school after the 6th grade due to the difficulty to reach the nearby school. Moreover, only two female students from the community that have managed to finish their high school education, yet still facing difficulties reaching university institutions located in the city of Yatta (at least 25 kilometers away). Such a dilemma has led to the increase in the incidents of early marriage for the females which is contributing largely to the cycle of poverty and lack of education the community has been plagued with for a long time.
In short, due to its geographical location, the community of Dkaika is facing a targeted campaign of isolation and destruction by the Israeli Army. One way of making it survive is the provision of basic services, including education. Its student population MUST be allowed to continue its higher education as to support their steadfastness and assure the survival of the community and to keep its place on the map.
The tried-and-proofed solution to support the steadfastness of the population of Dkaika and to assure the continued education (especially the female population) is to provide school transportation. From our experience, such a solution have helped to a great extent to keep the community of Susiya afloat for a period of 5 years in front of continued efforts by the Israeli Army and the settlers to uproot it; given the fact that we have provided such an important service to the community of Susiya, not only we assured access to education, we have seen Palestinian families actually coming back to the community as the number of families increased from 15 in 2002 to 25 in the year 2008 to a whapping 45 in the year 2012. We are aiming to duplicate the same effort in Dkaika.
Providing transportation for the student population includes the dedication of a car from the local community to specifically bring students from Dkaika to both schools in Al Najada and Umm Al Khair. This would ensure that a) the daily hardship of having to walk to both schools would be eliminated; b) students (specifically girls) would be granted the chance to continue their education; c) the reduction of the chances of early marriage; d) the injunction of cash into the community as we are insisting that the driver of the car be a member of the community; and e) assure the steadfastness of the community in general.
The project calls for the provision of a salary of NIS 2500 on monthly basis to pay for the fuel of a car as well as a basic salary for a driver from the community. His mission would be to collect the students of the community on daily basis, drive them to their respective schools, collect the same students upon the end of the school day and drive them safely to Dkaika. We are in the process of videotaping the trip taken by Dkaika students to and from school as to document their daily agony.
Finally, a paper issued by the community indicated that 4 female school students will benefit from this service in addition to two female university students along with 10 other male students. In addition, assurances from the community indicated that in case such a transportation is provided, at least two more female students who dropped out of school (due to the long distances they had to walk to reach school) will be willing to go back to school. Nothing else needs to be said. We are embarking on changing the immediate future of a very vulnerable and marginalized community located at the deep end of the West Bank
This post is based on a full report from our partner on the ground, the Hebron International Resource Network.