Peres initiates BGU extension at Rahat (JERUSALEM POST) By GREER FAY CASHMAN 04/03/12)
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President Shimon Peres shared his vision of expanding educational
opportunities for Beduin in the Negev during an official visit to
Rahat on Monday.
Peres presented his initiative for a Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev extension in the Beduin city to Mayor Faiz Abu Seheban, local
leaders and some 250 young people, many of whom will be the
beneficiaries of the president’s vision. He told the crowd he had
already discussed the project with BGU President Rivka Carmi,
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Planning and Budget Committee of
the Council for Higher Education.
BGU subsequently prepared a plan for the establishment of such an
extension and submitted it to the CHE’s Planning and Budget Committee.
Another meeting between representatives of the two entities is
scheduled to take place in the near future. The aim is to make higher
education accessible to all Beduin in the South, and in fact to
anyone who wants to study.
Even though equality for all citizens is enshrined in Israeli law,
Peres said that in reality there is discrimination. The president
attributed this discrimination to the gap in earning capacity which
is often determined by educational qualifications.
Peres envisages that the time will not be long in coming when the
entire Negev undergoes a revolution in progress as ever increasing
numbers of young people take advantage of the educational
opportunities that are being offered to them.
“I see tremendous importance in making higher education accessible to
the Beduin community,” said Peres, adding that better educated people
will be able to secure better jobs in which they will earn more money
and improve the quality of their lives.
“What will happen in the Negev, will be a symbol and a model for the
whole country,” Peres enthused.
The president, who had been in close contact with the Rahat
leadership regarding translating his vision into a new educational
dynamic, said that he had found eagerness and goodwill on all sides.
A similar attitude prevailed with regard to the Idan Hanegev
Industrial Park, which will provide thousands of new jobs.
While in Rahat, Peres also met with entrepreneurs and heads of local
authorities to stress the message of how the industrial park will
play a vital role not only in the lives of the Beduin but also in the
lives of many people from all over the Negev.
Seheban, who along with the crowd welcomed Peres, expressed
appreciation to the president for his years of commitment to the
Beduin, especially during the period that he served as minister for
the development of the Negev and the Galilee, but also before and
It was Peres who oversaw the urbanization process of the Beduin in
the Negev and it was Peres who paid special attention to educating
the Beduin, Seheban noted, adding that it was no secret that Peres
had a magic touch, and that projects that he initiated tended to
Seheban told Peres, and prize winning author Amoz Oz, who accompanied
Peres on the visit, that he wanted to see the integration of female
workers in the industrial park so they will feel that they are equal
partners in the development and growth of the community.
The younger generation of Rahat is a different generation from its
parents, Seheban continued. “It is more educated, more open, more
modern with a broader perspective of the horizon.”
Seheban voiced his belief that in a relatively short time the whole
region will experience change. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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