The children of the Sudanese refugees living in Eilat were astonished to learn last week that this year, too, they will be studying outside the city, in separate classes for Sudanese children only. Their classrooms were built last year in the Ayalot vacation village near Eilat, located within the jurisdiction of the Ayalot regional council. When the parents, most of whom work in Eilat hotels, complained, they were told that this was a temporary arrangement, for one year only, which would allow the children to study Hebrew ahead of enrolling in the Israeli school system. Whereas those children who live in Ayalot will be studying in the regional school, the refugee kids from Eilat will continue to study in classes for Sudanese only.
“I don’t believe that what you’re saying is true,” said A., a 12-year-old boy who lives in Eilat. “How can it be that my friends will go to a real school and I won’t? I’ve already learned Hebrew and I know a little English. I want to study in a school and take exams, like the Israelis.”
For several refugee children this is a situation of ongoing discrimination, since they did not study in an orderly fashion during the years when they wandered with their families from one refugee camp to another in Sudan. In Egypt they also had trouble being accepted into regular schools. Some of them studied in United Nations frameworks for Sudanese only, held during the summer months, while some did not study at all. Some of the kids aged between 12 to 15 only last year learned how to read and write in their own language (Arabic).