PRESS RELEASE – The Office of Christian Schools in Israel held on Wednesday 27 May 2015 a big demonstration in front of the premises of the Ministry of Education in Jerusalem to protest against the discriminatory policy of the Israeli Government against local Christian school. The report below summarizes the situation and calls for mobilization.(Translation corrections in red.)Office of Christian Schools in IsraelOn Wednesday 27 May 2015, at 11 a.m., an unprecedented demonstration was held in the square located opposite Lev Ram, Building in Jerusalem (seat of the Ministry of Education) by Christian Schools in Israel to protest against the discriminatory policy of the Ministry of Education towards our schools.Church figures (bishops, priests, religious and pastors) took part in the demonstration, as well as parents of students of local Christian schools.Local Christian schools count some 30,000 students, almost equally distributed between Christian and non Christians. Most of these schools started their activity before the creation of the State of Israel. They were built and developed thanks to donations from abroad. They brought and are still bringing to the Arab community in general a high quality education, as evidenced in the remarkable results of Christian schools. This high level of education is attested to by the number of Christian schools listed by the Ministry of Education as among the best. While earning high academic results, these schools teach their students Christian dogma, in line with Christian values of love, forgiveness and tolerance.These schools belong to the classification of schools “recognized but not public” by the Ministry of Education and receive a partial funding from the Ministry. The rest of the funding comes from tuition fees borne by parents.For many years, the Ministry of Education has reduced the budget of Christian schools (45% over the last few years). That obliged Christians schools to raise the fees, constituting a big burden on parents of the Arab sector, where the family’s average income is well known to be less than the national average.Last year, the Ministry of Education published new rules to restrict the capacity of Christian schools to collect fees from parents. The combination of these two factors, added to huge budget restrictions and limits imposed on acceptable fees is in fact a death sentence regarding these schools.A committee appointed by the Office of Christian Schools in Israel held negotiations over eight months with the Ministry of Education and the latter proposed that Christian schools become public. This proposal was seen by school owners (churches, monasteries, etc) as the end of the educational process, based on Christian values, and as a critical blow to the Christian minority in the Holy Land. Considering these events, Christian schools decided to end these negotiations.School owners from all over the world (Vatican, Germany, England, France, Scotland, USA and elsewhere) are well aware of this crisis and observe it with growing concern.The demonstrators purpose was to ask the Ministry of Education to thoroughly fund Christian schools, on equal footing with other school networks, in order to alleviate the burden weighing heavy on parents shoulders, and to put an end to the necessity to pay tuition fees.For further information, you may contact Fr Abdel Masih Fahim, Director, Office of Christian Schools at 00 972 50-5376481
- educate better than public schools. Catholic schools are also more socially engaged than public schools.
- subsidize the education of students. Contrary to the claims of certain misinformed citizens and government officials, Catholic schools educate students who would otherwise cost governments significantly more if educated in the public system. Catholic and non-Catholic students from low-income families also receive help from dioceses and parishes to offset their educational expenses. In reality, Catholics subsidize the education of students by paying half or more of the educational costs of students through tuition fees and Church donations. Imagine, for a moment, if governments decided to end their contributions to Catholic education and dioceses decided to close schools. The students would land in public schools. The government would then be on the hook for the complete cost of educating that huge number of students without any support from religious groups. If people think education is underfunded now, just imagine if the aforementioned scenario were to be enacted! Can you say 'taxes raised through the roof'?
- teach morals and produce good citizens. Sadly, a few schools are grossly deficient. For the most part, Catholic parochial schools raise children with a sense of dignity and respect. The best Catholic schools strengthen the faith of their students and help them become better citizens. US public schools, rife with gun and gang violence and distracted by the politicization of the classroom by secularist ideologues, are falling apart. The situation is not much better in the UK. Canada is perhaps five to ten years behind our British counterparts. Lowering academic achievement, illiterate students, entitlement mentality regarding a "right" to graduate—these are the signs of dysfunction and degradation contributing to the demise of the public school system.
- educate many non-Catholics. The hope of the developing world is sustained by Catholic schools that have for centuries taught non-Catholics and helped them make better lives for themselves and others.
- employ a lot (and we do mean a lot!) of teachers and support staff. Is anyone naive enough to think that, should Christian schools close, the public system will hire more teachers to accommodate the massive influx of students? Schools will simply increase class sizes and with that individual attention for struggling students will be decreased or vanish altogether. Has anyone noticed the increase in support organizations that offer private tutorials for struggling students? Might the clientele of those private teaching companies be mostly public school children whose parents have the funds to rescue their kids from failing public school programs? Just asking.