Christian schools in Israel ask for equality

Christian schools’ students in Israel ask for equality in funding

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Hundreds of Israelis protested on Wednesday over the discrimination of Israel’s education policies outside the ministry of education and demanded both private Christian and public ultraorthodox Jewish schools receive equal financial support.

Meanwhile, Catholic leaders reportedly push Pope Francis to contact Prime Minister Netanyahu directly.

Nearly 700 Israelis of teachers, parents, children, and church members gathered for the protests.

"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," said Fides Father Abdel Masih Fahim, director of Christian schools.

In Israel, the Christian education system is ‘’unofficially recognised’’ and get 75 percent of their findings from the ministry of education.

The ministry began cutting funding for these schools a few years ago.

The Christian schools held months of negotiations with the ministry to resolve the funding crisis. The talk ended with no solution when Israel suggested the schools become public, but the owners reject the proposal interpreting it as the end of Christian educational enterprise, based on Christian values in Holy Land.

Catholic church officials reject to bargain for decades-long heritage.

Christian schools in Israel are reportedly attended by 30,000 students. Only half are Christians. The vast majority of the students in this system are Arabs and some of them are Muslims. Most of these schools were established before the establishment of Israel as a state.

General director of the Nazareth Baptist school, Botrus Mansour said: "We demand equality. Equality between the Christian schools and the Jewish religious schools ... as well as the schools that are under the independent title, and take 100 percent of funding.”

Sawsan Zaher of Adalah, a legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel said: "It's a major part of the Arabic education system. When you see they are not fully funded while religious ultraorthodox schools are fully funded, of course you have discrimination, even if you have the law that enables that."

Israeli Education Ministry gives them only partial funding. The rest of the cost is paid by the parents.

Israel has tried to decrease the budget of these schools. This causes the schools to increase the cost at expense of damaging families’ budget.

The cut in funding mainly affects Arab population in Israel because their average family income is below the national average.

TRTWorld and agencies