Israel's Christian Schools Still on Strike Over Budget

A strike over budgets is keeping 33,000 pupils at home.

Jack Khoury
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Students protest against education budget cuts in Jerusalem, May 2015.
Students protest against education budget cuts in Jerusalem, May 2015.
Jack Khoury

Christian schools throughout the country remain closed by a strike over budgets that has kept 33,000 pupils in 47 schools home since the start of the school year Tuesday, with no solution from the Education Ministry in sight.

School administrators say the ministry has over the years been cutting funds from these schools, which are regarded as “recognized but unofficial” schools. Budget cuts have been so steep that the allocations from the Education Ministry cover only 29 percent of the costs of running the institutions. At the same time, the Education Ministry limits how much they can charge parents in tuition and fees.

“The cuts on the one hand, and the circular restricting collections on the other are dealing a death blow to the Christian schools,” said one principal. The school administrators note that ultra-Orthodox schools in the Maayan Hahinukh Hatorani and Atzma’i networks get full funding although they are not subject to Education Ministry inspection and many do not teach the core curriculum.

President Reuven Rivlin is expected to meet Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, and the issue is expected to be raised. Haaretz has learned that the school administrations have also contacted officials in the U.S. State Department about the importance of saving the schools, some of which are operating more than a century and are considered successful.

A rally for the schools is slated on Thursday in Ramle, following those this week in Haifa, Nazareth and Shfaram.

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