(news.va) Christian schools of Israel staged an unprecedented demonstration to denounce the discriminatory policies. Nearly 700 among teachers, parents and children, and religious gathered at 11 am on Wednesday, May 27 in the square in front of Lev Ram building, headquarters of the Ministry of Education, exposing large panels and distributing leaflets in which are expressed the reasons of such unprecedented protest.
“It is a peaceful and respectful demonstration, to say that we want to be treated like the others, both at an economic level and with regards to freedom of education” refers to Fides Father Abdel Masih Fahim, director of Christian schools.
Christian schools in Israel are attended by 30 thousand students, of whom only half are Christians. Most of them were already active before the establishment of the State of Israel. Achieving high academic results, they form students according to Christian values of love of one’s neighbor, forgiveness and tolerance.
Christian schools – says a statement released on the occasion of the event – belong to the category of schools “which are recognized but not public” and receive partial funding from the Ministry. The rest of the cost is covered by the fee paid by parents. For years, the Ministry of Education has tried to reduce the budget of Christian Schools , and this has forced Christian schools to increase the cost at the expense of families. The cut in funding mainly affects parents of the Israeli Arab population where the average family income is below the national average.
For years, the Ministry of Education has been consistently cutting the budget of Christian schools (45% in the last 10 years).
A committee appointed by Christian Schools in Israel led the negotiations for eight months with the Ministry and the Ministry proposed that schools become public schools. This proposal is interpreted by the owners of schools as the end of Christian educational enterprise, based on Christian values, and a serious blow to the Christian minority in Holy Land. In the light of these facts, Christian schools have stopped the talks.
“One is trying to impose teaching system standards already in place in schools in the Arab and Jewish government even in a Christian elementary school”, explains Father Abdel Masih Fahim to Fides “which would wipe out the specifics of their educational approach. And teachers are penalized compared to colleagues in other schools, with regards to their rights as workers”.
Bishops from different Christian Churches, including Bishops William Shomali and Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also took part in the event.
Official Press Release
Unprecedented Christian Schools demonstration in Jerusalem
PRESS RELEASE – On Wednesday, the 27th of May 2015, at 11:00 AM, an unprecedented demonstration in Jerusalem 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 against the discriminative policy of the Ministry of Education.
Press Release from the Office of Christian Schools in Israel
Unprecedented Demonstration in Jerusalem of Christian Schools
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 discriminative policy of the Ministry of Education towards our 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 the country consist of more than 30,000 students, almost equally divided between Christians and non-Christians. Most of these schools began operating years before the State of Israel was established. 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 protesters 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 Abdel Masih Fahim, head of the Christian Schools’ office at 050-5376481.