Jerusalem's Arab students 'receive less funding than Jewish counterparts'

Jerusalem's Arab students 'receive less funding than Jewish counterparts'
Money received by Jewish schools in West Jerusalem outstrips that of Arab East Jerusalem schools by more than half.
3 min read
24 August, 2016
Educational outcomes are likely impacted by the funding disparities [Anadolu]
Arab pupils in East Jerusalem's municipal high schools receive less than half the funding of their Jewish counterparts in the western part of the city, figures from Jerusalem municipality's budget suggest.

An analysis of the budget reveals that some schools in East Jerusalem, which is occupied by Israel, are not even receiving the funds allocated by the municipality.

An instance of the inequality that exists between eastern and western Jerusalem schools may be seen in a comparison of the Beith Hinuch High School and the Ras al-Amud high school.

As municipal schools, both instutions receive their budgets from the municipality and Israel's Education Ministry. Despite this, West Jerusalem's Beith Hinuch school received an allocation of 16.3 million shekels ($4.3 million) for 2016, while the Arab Ras al-Amud school will get only 2.9 million shekels ($766,993) for the same year. Both schools have roughly the same number of students in attendance.

Adding to the unbalanced scales is the fact that 70.8 percent of teaching positions in Beit Hinuch are approved, comparing to only 21.7 percent from Ras al-Amud.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, "a comparison of every clause in the budget indicates that the funding for the western Jerusalem school is immeasurably higher than that of its East Jerusalem counterpart".

These findings have been rejected by the municipality, who said that schools cannot be compared.

A comparison of every clause in the budget indicates that the funding for the western Jerusalem school is immeasurably higher than that of its East Jerusalem counterpart

"Just like you can't compare Haaretz to Israel Hayom, you can't compare different schools of different sizes and different characteristics, with different numbers of teachers and sources of funding found in other clauses," the municipality said, drawing a parallel between a comparison of two Israeli newspapers.

It was also claimed by the city that extra money is being spent on renovations in East Jerusalem. The budget, however, shows that the Arab sector receives less funding for renovations than any of the three sectors, which are identified as 'General', 'ultra-Orthodox' and 'Arab'.

For 2016, Arab schools received eight million shekels [$2.1 million] for renovations, paling in comparison to the 42 million shekels [$11.1 million] allocated for secular and national religious schools.

Furthermore, an analysis of funds transferred by the Education Ministry to Arab schools shows that amounts allocated are not received in full. To contrast, schools in West Jerusalem were found to have spent their ministry budgets and received additional funding from the municipality.

According to a study conducted by Jerusalem councillor Laura Wharton, the discrimination mentioned above is not isolated. Wharton's study revealed that 11 of 17 high schools in East Jerusalem received less funds, often by millions, than had been allocated to them. The opposite was true for West Jerusalem, where all but one school received additional support.

Speaking on the matter, an East Jerusalem principal quoted by Haaretz said that the reason for the advantage lies with the Jewish parents' upper hand in engaging with authorities.

"They speak Hebrew, they have NGOs and lawyers, they know exactly what their budget is and expect to get 100 percent of it. And if they don't, they go to war," the educator explained.

Meanwhile, Wharton hopes that a proper investigation into the inequalities will take place.

"What we're finding here is that not only does the municipality not give the same funding to the eastern city that it gives to pupils in the west, but it actually takes from budgets that are destined for pupils in East Jerusalem," said Wharton.

"This is scandalous. I certainly hope that the Education Ministry, the state comptroller and anyone who cares about proper administration will help investigate this and correct what's necessary".