Over the centuries, Christian churches including the Orthodox have pioneered education for the local populations, regardless of race or creed. Today, this attitude of openness continues – Muslim and Christian pupils learn side by side, forging relationships in the classroom and basketball courts. Day to day encounter is one of the strongest factors encouraging peaceful cooperation and mutual flourishing, making education a vital component of peace and understanding.
Yet these schools are not without difficulties. All Churches are running deficits on the schools. What they cannot collect in tuition from families, the schools rely on the Patriarchates and diocesan bodies to fill the funding gaps. It is common for the Churches to pay for 40-50% of the cost per student.
Many schools, like the one pictured above, are in dire need of structural repairs. These include new roofs and ceilings, heating and air conditioning, and other major structural issues. They typically rely on outside organisations for this. Many of those funding bodies, such as Pontifical Mission, faithfully and generously give to schools, however many funding organisations have dried up or have ceased their programmes in the West Bank. Consequently, these vital institutions face an even steeper challenge. ICoHS is looking into ways we can support church schools – whether through tuition assistance, funds for structural repairs, or linking them with other agencies and organisations that can help.