ASIA/ISRAEL - The Israeli government does not keep its promises, Christian schools at risk

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - A few days before the end of a difficult school year, which started with a 27-day strike, 47 Christian schools operating in Israel are facing a financial emergency from the potentially devastating effects, because the Ministry of education has not honored their commitment to transfer 50 Million Shekels to the Christian Schools.
The concern for the difficult situation is expressed in an appeal-document released by Christian schools, where they outline key steps and controversial aspects of a story that is creating anxiety for tens of thousands of teachers, school staff, students and families across the Country.
The Office of Christian Schools announced this unprecedented strike after the government had been constantly cutting the budgets allocated to these schools to a level of 45% in the last 6 years.
At the end September, some proposals to break the deadlock had been submitted by the Israeli Ministry of Education Office of Christian schools (see Fides 29/9/2015). The strike ended after the government and the Christian schools reached an agreement. It stated that the Christian schools would receive 50 million shekels by the 31st of March 2016 as compensation for the cuts in previous years. In addition, the agreement stated that a commission would be formed with the sole purpose of discussing recommendations to resolve the crisis.
As of today, more than 50 days past the deadline, the government has not transferred the sum of 50 Million Shekels.
The special commission was formed and headed by Dr. Shimshon Shoshani. It met 3 times. The conclusions included a recommendation to join the Public school system according to what will be agreed. It also included granting every Christian School 3 additional hours per class weekly to "strengthen and preserve the Christian identity and the special style of living in Christian schools".
"It is clear - said the statement, signed by Father Abdel Masih Fahim, General Secretary of the Office - that these recommendations do not solve the financial crisis that has resulted from the Ministry of Education’s policy in recent years. And we regret the fact that the Ministry of Education is trying again to force our institutions to join the Public system". Before the financial collapse that threatens them, Christian schools, through their Coordination Office, demand that the Israeli Government honors its commitments as soon as possible, decides on a fixed sum to be paid annually to the Christian schools to compensate for the drastic cuts, or, alternatively, that a new legislation be brought forward that will create a new status for the Christian schools that will ensure sufficient funding and take into consideration their uniqueness and long service in the land.
These 47 Christian Schools consist of 33,000 Christian, Muslim, Druze and Jewish students from all around the country. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 25/05/2016)