The members of the coalition for education in East Jerusalem met Tuesday, two weeks after the beginning of the school year, to discuss the dire situation of the education system in east Jerusalem. During the meeting, the participants tried to advance new initiatives which could change the desperate situation of the education system in the eastern part of the city.
The dire situation of the education system in east Jerusalem is well known. Education Minister Yuli Tamir has even admitted recently that there are 1,300 missing classrooms in east Jerusalem.
Because of that problem, schools are refusing to enlist more students, forcing many to seek their education in private institutions belonging to the Waqf, the Palestinain Authority, and the United Nations, and pay for them despite the "free education" law in Israel.
The participants of the conference presented their proposed solutions to the problem, including forming a public commission to be headed by the education minister and will include all the relevant bodies.
According to Amos Gil, chairman of the Ir-Amim organization, the issue can be solved only if it is treated on a national level. According to the organization, there are about 14,000 students which are not listed in the city's education system.
Jerusalem City Council member Papa Alalu said that if the problem is not solved, "we will have a social intifada (uprising) on our hands."
East Jerusalem parents' organization leader Abed Al Karim Lafi told Ynet that "we are living under occupation. The law demands that everyone get access to education. We need to be educated in order for us to be able to live together."
The problem in east Jerusalem is well known: Three Supreme Court Petitions were handed since 2000, and in 2001, the court ordered to build 245 new classrooms, but only 48 have been built since.
Jerusalem City Spokesman Gidi Shmerling said in response that "the construction of schools in Israel is funded by the Education Ministry, but sees the lack of classrooms as a major problem. The City is constantly acting, however, to build new public buildings in the Eastern part of the city in light of the sharp increase in population and students in the area. Seven new schools and six new buildings have been opened in the last four years, and three more are currently under construction."