The Christian schools in Israel demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Education in Jerusalem, in the Lev Ram area on Wednesday 27 May 2015. They were protesting against the discriminatory policy which the Ministry is practising against the Christian schools. Hundreds of administrators and students from the cities and villages of the Galilee area took part in the demonstration; 14 buses all together. Clergy members also took part in the demonstration , bishops, priests and shepherds and a number of sisters in addition to 8 members from the Arab Kenesset from the Joint Arab List and several principles of schools and teachers as well as parents of students and some students in the Christian schools in the country.
The demonstrators asked that the Ministry of Education would totally fund the Christian schools, just like they do with other educational networks. This will remove a heavy burden from the shoulders of the parents who would no longer have to pay tuition for the Christian schools.
The principle of Mar Yohanna’s school in Haifa (St John’s school), Mr. Azeez Daeem, said to Linga’s site: “All private schools are united together to declare in this first protesting step that they will not accept that their schools would be erased or wiped out. All these schools have an ancient history; they have served both Jews and Arabs in all their different religions, Christians, Muslims and Druz. They are schools that offer a message of love, giving, diversity, and human values. Private schools have a role in spreading the Christian faith and love, and they are at the peak of giving and also carry a great educational message. Our students in all private schools have very high educational standards despite the lack of their financial abilities and teaching hours.”
Mr. Azeez Daeem continued by saying: “In the past period, there has been great intimidation towards private schools through the lack of budgets and not sufficient teaching hours; there has also been a certain amount of injustice practiced towards the rights of teachers in comparison to the teachers that work at the government schools. Students in governmental schools are offered summer schools whilst students who go to private schools don’t get summer schools or any other favours.” He also said also that the Ministry is trying to change private schools to formal schools that have one educational track, but Christian schools have a special history, a sense of belonging, a vision and a strategy to serve the society which distinguish them from formal schools. Perhaps it is the Great success and accomplishments that private schools achieve cause the Ministry to take such measures towards them.
Lawyer Botros Mansour, principle of the Baptist school told Linga’s site that these protests were a result of the policy that has to do with tightening the budget for private schools year after year. This has caused private schools to unite together to stand in the face of this policy. Mr. Botros Mansour also said that he did not know the reason behind tightening the budget for the best schools in Israel, but when this topic was discussed with the Ministry they said that they were trying to change private schools to public ones.
Jamal Zahalqa, member of the Kenesset said that the decisions of the Ministry of Education aim to suffocate private schools so that their roles would be eliminated and eventually change them to public schools. The government tried to fight the success of Arab schools that include 5% of the students in Israel. However, more than 30% of academics, doctors and lawyers are graduates of private schools. These schools have proven their success and rather than rewarding and supporting them for that, they are putting them in an unbearable position.
Ayman Odeh, another Kenesset member said that what is happening nowadays is a despicable act towards the cultural heritage which the private schools have built. “We as a people remember that these are the schools that took us out of the darkness of the end of the 19th century and beyond, they continue to benefit our people and most citizens. If we were to consider the Arab university graduates, then these schools form 4-5% of the secondary schools, however 30% in from the Arab university graduates went to private schools.”
“These schools are a treasure to our society. Rather than thanking these schools, for taking the burdens from the government and rather than giving them more support just like the other religious Jewish schools, the government is walking in the opposite direction and tightening the budget for these schools. This is a blow for our civilization, culture and education, we will continue to work together and keep working so that justice and equality would take place between these schools and the religious Jewish schools.
The chairman of the Baptist Association in Israel, brother Hani Belan took part in the protest as well as brother Rajaee Samawi who is the chairman of the Evangelical Council; they both came to especially support the Baptist school but also other Christian schools.