Tensions are high in Israel between the Latin Patriarchate Schools (LPS) and the Ministry of Education. In question, state subsidies which have been steadily decreasing for ten years, endangering establishments whose existence dates back to the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1847.
4,000 pupils and 400 teachers and members of the administrative staff is what the five schools and the kindergarten dependent on the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem bring together.
“Each bell tower had its school next door and that's how they were born,” Fr. Elie Kurzum, Director of the Patriarchal Schools of the Sisters of Nazareth, told Vatican News.
But the survival of these establishments is threatened. The Israeli government which subsidizes them, has reduced its contribution by more than a third from what it was 10 years ago, “because of several reasons which are not entirely clear to us,” says Fr. Elie modestly.
However, he specifies, “we still offer a higher education program in the basic program and despite this the subsidies are not up to standard.”
And the priest remarked that a similar treatment was reserved for schools belonging to other Christian denominations: “All Christian schools in the State of Israel are suffering. We are talking about 64 schools with approximately 40,000 students.”
The attitude of the Ministry of Education does not appear to be very coherent since it recognizes itself that the Christian schools are among the best in the country: “Politics are also behind it, who decides who to finance, and how to finance, but apparently we have no influence on politics to be considered, despite our results and despite our work,” laments Fr. Elie.
The reduction in subsidies has also been accompanied by a significant increase in tuition fees set by the state, which has the effect of straining the budget of families and offering little prospect to teaching staff.
The situation is all the less tenable as the patriarchy schools continue to come to the aid of the less well-off children: “In all our schools, when we have a family who cannot pay, we come to their aid. And we also have parents who lose their jobs and suddenly find themselves in a difficult financial situation. For these too we adapt the tuition fees,” underlines the priest.
This is a situation that is not likely to improve anytime soon. With the success of Binyamin Netanyahu in the legislative elections of early November 2022, who, to win, relied on several ultra-Orthodox Jewish political formations which have little concern for Christian schooling.