The schools of the Patriarchate were created when the Patriarchate was reestablished in 1847. The Patriarch at the time, H.B. Valerga, saw it as a way to reach Christian families in different towns and villages. Even today, by participating in the education and school education of children, the Latin Church is present daily in the Christian communities formed by families. By the same token, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has become an stakeholder that promotes the interests and welfare of local communities.
The Patriarchate now has 41 schools spread across Jordan, Palestine and Israel. In these institutions, every effort is made to ensure that students develop in a healthy environment and receive quality education. Education is a diocesan priority because good training is a source of hope for younger generations and their families. For this, the Patriarchate is committed to providing it to all children, from kindergarten to high school.
Although fee-paying, these schools are accessible to everyone, regardless of families’ income. Thus, the poorest families are exempt from tuition fees. This access to education for all would not be possible without the donations and the major financial support of the Knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Latin Patriarchate Schools and the local context
Patriarchate schools employ nearly 1,600 teachers, administrators and educators and provide education to more than 19,000 children.
In Jordan and Palestine, they are not recognized by the state. The authorities in these countries, however, provide textbooks and grants for specific programs.
In order to preserve these aids and to obtain new ones, the Patriarchate must adhere to the educational requirements of the education ministries: to propose and maintain a high level of training of teachers and infrastructures.
Maintaining schools in some Palestinian cities is sometimes problematic given the low incomes of families, many of whom are affected by unemployment.
In Israel, the role of Patriarchate schools has been recognized since 1989. Despite their significant decline in 2017, the subsidies paid partly cover teachers’ salaries and enable them to face many financial challenges.
A mission that starts at an early age
Convinced that the environment in which children between the ages of three and five years live is decisive in the development of their learning capacity and their character, the Patriarchate Schools general directorate has opened establishments that cater to the youngest, Kindergartens. Primary and secondary schools then lead students to the equivalent of the Baccalaureate, Tawjihi. Consequently, children are accompanied from a very young age to the beginning of adulthood.
Educational reform and teacher training
To meet the current expectations of students and ministries, the school management has launched a major program of reforms that aims to put students back at the center of the system, improve professional monitoring of teachers and increase the autonomy of schools.
Thus, each school’s mission today is to propose a policy of training and career support for teachers to increase their motivation and in this way provide a better quality of teaching and learning of students.
Teaching always looking for improvement
Compared to other public or private schools, the infrastructure of Patriarchate schools is in some areas aging. However, our schools are committed to applying modern educational methods in line with respective governments’ requirements, whether for school, sports or cultural activities.
Every year, new projects are created to improve the teaching and education of students:
Rehabilitation projects offer refurbished spaces, while other schools are still modernizing their equipment. Most of these projects are partially or fully supported by donors.
Schools also offer students complementary, educational, recreational and social programs:
– “Global Generation” program, which promotes the exchange with other students via Skype.
– Welcoming friends from the United States via the HOPE program that visits Palestine and Jordan on pilgrimage. They are also working on strengthening relations with schools in Nablus and Beit Jala, with different educational programs.
– Conducting workshops for second grade students of the Ramallah School, focusing on coexistence and interreligious dialogue in the light of citizenship and pluralism.
– Partnership with the Barnabé Network, fa French organization which offers help to the teaching of French (proposal of internships in France for local teachers, sending of volunteers for the animation of summer camps), and makes the link to set up twin actions between institutions of the Earth Holy and French schools.
Teaching in faith and in favor of peace
At the beginning of 2017, 18,224 students were enrolled in Latin schools. Among them, Christians of course, but not only because the reregistration is done without any religious discrimination.
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Why keep, maintain and develop these schools?
Today, as before, Latin schools constitute the majority of Catholic and Christian schools in Palestine. Without these schools, thousands of Christian children, living in a predominantly non-Christian community, would be forced to go to public schools, where the general atmosphere and mentalities are totally foreign to the Christian faith. For example, Sunday, Lord’s Day, is not a holiday.
Parish schools offer a better environment par excellence for religious vocations and ecumenism. Since their creation, these schools have been welcoming students from all communities, all denominations and offering them solid religious, moral and intellectual training.
Latin schools work together on the human and social development of the populations most in need. Thus, strengthening these schools can limit the Christian emigration from villages to cities, or even international emigration.
Please click here to see the website of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Palestine, Jordan and Israel.