24 million Egyptian students begin school year amid virus precautions

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Students wearing protective masks attend the first day's class at Al Sadeeya school, following months of closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Cairo, Egypt October 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Students wearing protective masks attend the first day at Al Sadeeya school, following months of closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Cairo, Egypt October 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Students wearing protective masks attend the first day's class at Al Sadeeya school, following months of closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Cairo, Egypt October 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 October 2020

24 million Egyptian students begin school year amid virus precautions

  • School leaders spent the first day of school making announcements to students about essential hygiene and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • There was generally a high turnout of students in most schools, despite rumors of classes being canceled

CAIRO: Amid measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, 24 million Egyptian students have started their academic year in 56,000 different schools.
School leaders spent the first day of school making announcements to students about essential hygiene and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There was generally a high turnout of students in most schools, despite rumors of classes being canceled.
The Ministry of Education and Technical Education circulated precautionary measures for schools, such as following up on those who have been in contact with infected people to limit the transmission of infection, raising awareness among all groups participating in education, including students’ families, and maintaining social distancing.
Mahmoud El-Fouly, a representative of the Education and Technical Education Directorate in Giza Governorate, said that the student attendance on the first day of school was 100 percent. He said that he addressed the students in the morning to reassure them about the pandemic.
“Egypt is free of the coronavirus, but prevention is better than treatment,” he said.
He called for maintaining personal hygiene and the constant ventilation of classrooms and places where students gather inside schools.
Official sources said that at the beginning of term the ministry will follow up the attendance of students and any problems that might appear. Schools have instructions on how to deal with any cases of sickness quickly.
The Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education denied reports that the start of studies in universities for the academic year 2020-2021 would be postponed. It said that the academic year began in all universities nationwide on the announced date, Saturday.
The first semester of the academic year in Egypt will last for 14 weeks, ending on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, with the first semester exams taking place from Jan. 23 until Feb. 4, 2021.
The mid-year break runs from Feb. 6 until Feb. 18, 2021. The second semester starts on Feb. 20, 2021 and continues for sixteen weeks until July 10, 2021.
The end-of-semester exams will be conducted during June and July 2021.


Court orders authorities to reveal Israeli citizenship criteria to Palestinian Jerusalemites

Updated 26 November 2020

Court orders authorities to reveal Israeli citizenship criteria to Palestinian Jerusalemites

  • Without Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem could not obtain an Israeli passport, vote in national elections, or work in state government jobs
  • Vast majority of Jerusalem’s 330,000 stateless Palestinians have not applied

AMMAN: An Israeli court has forced state authorities to reveal the criteria that need to be met for Palestinian Jerusalem youth to become citizens of Israel.

The judicial order will mean that approximately 20,000 Palestinians aged between 18 and 21 living in East Jerusalem will now know the requirements when petitioning for Israeli citizenship, which is not automatically granted to them as residents of the city.

The vast majority of Jerusalem’s 330,000 stateless Palestinians have not applied, nor have the desire, to become Israelis. But the court decision should in future make the application process easier for those interested in carrying an Israeli passport and having the protection of the Israeli government regarding their legal status.

Jerusalem attorney, Mohammed Dahdal, who has practiced civil and human rights law for more than 30 years, noted that without Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem could not obtain an Israeli passport, vote in national elections, or work in state government jobs, among other things.

However, they did pay taxes to Israel and received social benefits such as national insurance, unemployment payments, and healthcare coverage.

Dahdal told Arab News that after 1988, when Jordan disengaged from the West Bank, which included East Jerusalem, Jerusalemites became stateless citizens. He said the ruling had come about after a Palestinian from Jerusalem had appealed to the court after revealing a loophole in the law.

He noted that the court decision, published by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, made four conditions to ensure receipt of an Israeli passport. “That the applicant has no other citizenship, that they were born in Israel (for Israel, East and West Jerusalem are both parts of Israel), that the applicant is between 18 and 21 years old, and has lived continuously in Israel during the five years preceding applying for citizenship.”

The lawyer added that the Israeli government had fought in court to have the criteria for citizenship kept under wraps.

Former Jordanian member of parliament, Audeh Kawwas, who was on Wednesday appointed as a member of the Jordanian Senate, told Arab News: “If the aim is to solve the statelessness issue of Jerusalemites, I am for it and I have spoken about it (as a committee member) in the World Council of Churches.

“However, if this is an attempt to disenfranchise Palestinians and to make the city more Israeli, then I am totally opposed.”

Hazem Kawasmi, a community activist in Jerusalem, told Arab News that many young Palestinian Jerusalemites were in a desperate situation, as no government or institution was taking care of them and their needs.

He said: “They are living under occupation with daily harassment from the police and Israeli intelligence and face all kinds of racism and enmity.

“Israeli citizenship helps them get high-skilled jobs and it is a prerequisite for many jobs. It helps them travel for tourism or work to Europe and the US without the cumbersome, complicated procedures of getting visas, that is if they get it at all.

“Finally, Israeli citizenship makes the youth feel safe not to lose their residency in Jerusalem and movement and work in Israel,” he added.

Khalil Assali, a member of the Jerusalem Waqf and an observer of Jerusalem affairs, told Arab News that he was doubtful that Israel would speed up the process for granting Israeli citizenship. “They have made this move to show their newly established Arab friends that they are acting democratically.”

Hijazi Risheq, head of the Jerusalem Merchants’ committee, told Arab News that the Israelis were looking for ways to turn the city into a Jewish one. By giving citizenship to youth between the ages of 18 and 21, Israel was aiming to deter them from carrying out hostile acts against Israel and keep them away from the Palestinian National Authority and its security forces, he said.

Jerusalem-based human rights activist, Rifaat Kassis, said: “The idea that Jerusalem is Arab has become an empty slogan. Meanwhile, Israeli racism has become the overriding power that forces Jerusalemites trying to have a dignified life with their families to live under difficult conditions.”