(abouna) The Secretariat of Christian Schools in Israel announced on Sunday, September 27, that is has reached an agreement with the Education Ministry to receive in part some of the funds cut in recent years and to end the strike of the 47 church schools that has been ongoing since the beginning of the school year.
All 33,000 pupils from these schools will return to their studies on Monday, September 28.
Under Sunday’s settlement, the Education Ministry said it would cancel the budget cuts and allocate a one-time payment of roughly $12.5 million to the Christian community in Israel. In addition, the ministry and Christian schools agreed to form a committee to resolve any remaining areas of disagreement by next March.
The ministry has consistently reduced the standard number of subsidized teaching hours in the Christian schools from 1.1 hours per student in the 2003/2004 school year to 0.66 hours per student for the current year, allowing it to claim that the schools were still getting 75 per cent of state funding but for a much reduced number of hours.
The Christian schools have been on strike since the school year began on Sept. 1 to protest cuts in government funding. Christian leaders have said the cuts amounted to discrimination.
To address theses larger issues, a joint committee will be established with equal numbers of representative from the ministry and the Christian schools to draw up solutions to the budget shortfalls that have resulted from the heavy reduction in subsidized school hours. The committee is charged with formulating solutions by March 2016.
A permanent working group will also be created for ongoing cooperation between the ministry and the Secretariat and to implement the solutions drawn up by the joint committee.