Office of Christian Schools in occupied Palestine
On Wednesday, the 27th of May 2015, at 11:00 AM, an unprecedented demonstration will be held in the plaza in front of the Lev Ram building in Jerusalem (Ministry of Education headquarters) by the Christian Schools in Israel protesting on the discriminatory policy of the Ministry of Education towards their schools.
Participants in the demonstration will include clergymen (Bishops, Priests, Nuns, and Pastors) in addition to parents of children in Christian schools throughout the country.
The Christian schools in Israel consist of more than 30,000 students, almost equally divided between Christians and non-Christians. Most of these schools were Palestinian, and began operating years before the establishment of Israel. They were built and developed through donations from abroad. They provided and still providing the general Arab community with quality education that has resulted in the high achievements of the Christian schools. This high quality education is displayed, among other things, in the number of Christian schools listed at the top of the Ministry of Education’s published categories. While achieving high academic results, they also teach their students Christian doctrine and instruct them according to the Christian values of loving others, forgiveness and tolerance.
These schools belong to the “recognized but not public” classification of schools in the Ministry of Education and receive partial funding from the Ministry. The rest of their funding comes from fees that are collected from the parents.
For years, the Ministry of Education has been consistently cutting the budget of Christian schools (45% in the last 10 years). This has forced the Christian schools to raise the service fees that are collected from the parents to a level that has become a heavy burden on the parents, especially for parents from the Arab sector where the average family income is well known to be lower than the national average.
Last year the Ministry of Education issued new regulations that even limited the ability of Christian schools to collect fees from the parents. The combination of these two things, substantial budget cuts and limiting allowable fees, is actually viewed as a death penalty for these schools.
A committee appointed by the Office of Christian Schools in Israel held negotiations for 8 months with the Ministry of Education where the Ministry proposed that the Christian schools become public schools. This proposal was seen by the owners of the schools (churches, monasteries, etc.) as the end of the Christian, value-based educational enterprise and even a critical blow to the Christian minority in the Holy Land. In light of that, the Christian schools decided to end these negotiations.
The owners of these schools from around the world (The Vatican, Germany, England, France, Scotland, USA and others) are aware of this crisis and are watching with growing concern.
The protestors in the demonstration will be demanding that the Ministry of Education fully fund the Christian schools, just like other educational networks, and thus lift the burden from the shoulders of the parents and cancel the need for them to pay the service fees to the Christian schools.
For any further information – contact Father Abed Elmasih Fahim, head of the Christian Schools’ office at 050-5376481.