In February 2011, the High Court of Justice ruled in a petition filed by ACRI that the state had violated the right of East Jerusalem students to free public education.
The court allocated the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Education a period of five years to resolve the shortage of classrooms, and stated that if after five years public education was still inaccessible to East Jerusalem students, then students would be able to enroll in private educational institutions at the expense of the state.
As we approach the end of this five year period, ACRI contacted the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Education in order to obtain information on the preparations that have taken place to implement the court ruling. Since the judgment was handed down, the municipality and the ministry have adopted certain measures to reduce the shortage of classrooms in public schools and kindergartens. However, the gap remains large and has even grown as a result of the natural increase in the number of students over the years. At the current time, it appears clear that in February 2016 – at the end the time allocated by the court – there will not be an adequate resolution of the pressing need for educational resources in East Jerusalem.
ACRI Attorney Anne Suciu made clear in the correspondence that in order to comply with the court ruling, the authorities should begin to prepare now to cover the expenditure on education that will be owed to students beginning from February 2016.
Education Facts in East Jerusalem
- Out of the 10,000 children aged 5 years old in East Jerusalem that are entitled to free compulsory education, only 1,667 were allocated places in local public kindergartens, and 3,709 received places in private institutions. This means that approximately 5,000 5-year old children have not received a place in any educational institution.
- Out of 20,000 3 and 4 year old children in East Jerusalem, only 1,694 were allocated a place in local public kindergartens, and 5,980 received places in private institutions. This means that approximately 12,000 children aged 3-4 years old have not received a place in any educational institution.
- Since ACRI’s petition was submitted in 2008, the number of students studying in public schools has remained stagnant. According to data provided by the Ministry of Education and the municipality, there were 40,552 public school students in East Jerusalem in 2008 (when the petition was submitted). Currently, there are 40,945 students in public schools in East Jerusalem. This data shows that the rate of construction of new classrooms is vastly insufficient, and that the reality for East Jerusalem students has not improved at all since 2008.
- The lack of public schools in East Jerusalem has lead to a situation whereby approximately 40,000 students who are entitled to free public education are forced to pay for private tuition at the cost of thousands of dollars per child each year.