Getting educated about Jerusalem

Jerusalem is not just a holy city. It is very special for me. I love taking guests from abroad through the old streets and then on to its modern museums

And yet most of those people who do not live near Israel’s capital can only glean info from media sources, which in turn are usually purporting a biased angle. The result – confusion, when there should be amazement.

I am reluctant to quote official sources for references, if only for the very reasons quoted above. That said, last week, I was sent an official posting from the Jerusalem municipality ahead of the new academic school year. Written in cold language, it simply stated the facts as to what is happening with many of the minority communities in the city, stats that few know about.

What follows are direct quotes, although I have cut out some of the linking sentences: –

Jerusalem Mayor Barkat’s Education Revolution in Eastern Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has declared a revolution in the field of education in eastern Jerusalem.  After 40 years of neglect, the city has commenced on an unprecedented closing of the gaps.  The completion of the Mayor’s plan will lead to a significant change in education in eastern Jerusalem.

 Since Mayor Barkat took office, new schools, including approximately 200 classrooms, have been built in the eastern part of the city.  The municipality is currently investing the unprecedented sum of NIS 300 million (about US$85m)in the planning and contruction of 285 new classrooms in eastern Jerusalem, of which NIS 75 million-worth are already under constuction.  ….  Six kindergarten classrooms will also be opened this year, including one for special education.  In addition, more than 40 classrooms were renovated and adapted to pupils’ needs, with emphasis on the Shoafat refugee camp.  Sports facilities were built in Beit Tzafafa and in approximately two months (tentative) a new sports facility will be dedicated in Isawiya.  

The municipality has also decided to invest NIS 750,000 per annum in advancing gifted and outstanding pupils, strengthening girls’ education and reducing violence.  NIS 1.5 million has also been designated for schools’ organizational expenditures.

In the technology sphere, the Municipality is distributing no less than 1,720 mobile and regular computers to schools, kindergartens and teachers in eastern Jerusalem; 350 additional computers will be distributed to pupils’ homes.  Classrooms in six schools in the eastern part of the city will be converted to sophisticated “smart classrooms” thanks to the installation of seven interactive blackboards.  ……Teachers and principals will participate in computer training courses.  Companies such as Ernst & Young, and various high-tech firms, including Intel, are participating in Mayor Barkat’s computer revolution.

 Mayor Barkat said that, “…..We cannot countenance a situation in which Jerusalem pupils have no classrooms, roads or basic infrastructures.  The investments will lead to an increase in residents’ quality of life.”

(Communicated by the Jerusalem Municipality Spokesman – 31.8.2011: For further details,  please contact Jerusalem Municipality Foreign Media Advisor Stephan Miller at 050-3121841.)

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