ASIA/ISRAEL - Protest demonstration of Christian schools against discriminatory policies

Jerusalem - Christian schools of Israel staged an unprecedented demonstration to denounce the discriminatory policies. Nearly 700 among teachers, parents and children, and religious gathered at 11 am on Wednesday, May 27 in the square in front of Lev Ram building, headquarters of the Ministry of Education, exposing large panels and distributing leaflets in which are expressed the reasons of such unprecedented protest. "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" refers to Fides Father Abdel Masih Fahim, director of Christian schools.
Christian schools in Israel are attended by 30 thousand students, of whom only half are Christians. Most of them were already active before the establishment of the State of Israel. Achieving high academic results, they form students according to Christian values of love of one’s neighbor, forgiveness and tolerance. Christian schools - says a statement released on the occasion of the event - belong to the category of schools "which are recognized but not public" and receive partial funding from the Ministry. The rest of the cost is covered by the fee paid by parents.
For years, the Ministry of Education has tried to reduce the budget of Christian Schools , and this has forced Christian schools to increase the cost at the expense of families. The cut in funding mainly affects parents of the Israeli Arab population where the average family income is below the national average.
A committee appointed by Christian Schools in Israel led the negotiations for eight months with the Ministry and the Ministry proposed that schools become public schools. This proposal is interpreted by the owners of schools as the end of Christian educational enterprise, based on Christian values, and a serious blow to the Christian minority in Holy Land. In the light of these facts, Christian schools have stopped the talks. "One is trying to impose teaching system standards already in place in schools in the Arab and Jewish government even in a Christian elementary school", explains Father Abdel Masih Fahim to Fides "which would wipe out the specifics of their educational approach. And teachers are penalized compared to colleagues in other schools, with regards to their rights as workers".
Bishops from different Christian Churches, including Bishops William Shomali and Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also took part in the event.