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Christian schools in Israel protest state funding cut

Christian schools in Israel protest state funding cut

An Israeli flag flies in a playground at a school built from reinforced concrete in the Israeli town of Sderot March 28, 2014. | REUTERS

Christian schools in Israel are all set to go on strike tomorrow to protest the government's decision to cut down on state subsidies.

In Israel, many of the 48 Christian schools that cater to both Christian and Muslim students have begun operating even before Israel officially became a nation in 1948. Two years ago, the government cut down state subsidies to the Christian schools by 34 percent, making it more difficult for the school and the students' parents to cover the remaining expenses for education, according to Christianity Daily (CD).

In the past few years, donations from charitable institutions have filled the funding gap for the Christian schools. However, the recently implemented rules have limited the amount that the institutions can receive from their sources.

Unless the Christian schools become officially part of the state educational system, the funding will continue to be incomplete. But school leaders do not want to comply with this condition because they say doing so will limit their autonomy and put their buildings and staff under the control of the government, Christianity Today reports.

In a joint statement, the school administrators said the additional funding from the Ministry of Education will not bridge the gap that the budget cuts have created over the years. It will also not prevent policies that discriminate against them, they added.

"Recently [the ministry has] even tightened the noose around our necks with regulations limiting the percentage of tuition we can charge," CD quotes the school administrators' statement. "This is a death strike that will prevent our schools from being able to work!"

The Christian schools want the Israeli government to resume the 65 percent funding that they were receiving prior to the policy change. The parents, students, and teachers are now planning to stage demonstrations this week, the report states.

Giving in to the demands of the Christian schools will cost the Israeli government an additional expense of $52 million every year.

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