Latin Patriarchate schools
The Latin Patriarchate schools LPS were established ever since the first school was established in Beit Jala in 1854. Since that time, the administrators persisted to improve and enlarge these schools all over Palestine. Nowadays they are found in twelve locations. These schools started to gain vitality and momentum one after the other,the school of Jifna was established in 1856 and then the school of Bir Zeit in 1864 and so on.
These schools are totally supervised by the Latin Patriarchate represented by the general administration of schools located in Beit Jala and headed by one of the priests (it is headed now by father Dr. Faysal Hijazen) and a staff of employees and supervisors. This staff makes systematic field visits to all the schools that are spread all over the country.
Most of the Latin Patriarchate schools in Jordan and Palestine were established in the nineteenth century in the absence of state-established public schools. They were an extension of the Church’s spiritual effort. The schools were opened in societies that greatly suffered from poverty, ignorance, and poor health conditions during the Ottoman rule. They were traditional schools that taught catechism, Arabic, and arithmetic.
The Latin Patriarchate (LPJ) was originally re-established in l847. Since the establishment of its first rural parish (Beit Jala, Palestine) in 1853, the Patriarchate activated its apostolic program based in the parish schools. As soon as a parish was founded, a school for boys and girls would be established. This is how the first missionaries were able to establish Catholic Communities in the rural areas, which, for centuries have not heard of the Catholic Church. In Jordan, the Latin Patriarchate also played a pioneering role in establishing the first schools there.
For over 146 years, the Patriarchate continues the development of the pastoral needs of the schools - first means of apostolate in the Holy Land- through an activity that promotes the faith as well as the human, intellectual and social development of the person.
The Latin Patriarchate has a network of 42 schools, with 1110 staff members and 18883 students in Jordan, Palestine and Israel. The LPJ schools’ system is one of the pioneer educational systems in the region. Over 146 years in the service of our society, and mostly in the service of the needy, and in villages.
The Department of Education at the Latin Patriarchate (DELPJ) is trying its best to provide not only a high standard of education but also to initiate other programs. These programs would provide psychological assistance, ecological awareness, peace education and democracy education. The students are taught how to apply their knowledge in real life rather than simply regurgitate facts and figures, and nowadays, with the rapid dissemination of knowledge through the internet, they are taught not just to regurgitate information they find on the net, but instead to process it and use it to help them express their own ideas, thus preparing them for a better future. On the other hand, the students of these Christian schools are held to a higher code of conduct than might be expected in the public schools environment.
Importance : Reasons why to keep, maintain and develop the schools:
Now, like in the past, LPS constitute the majority of the catholic and Christian schools (of all denominations) in Palestine .Without these schools, thousands of Christian children living in a predominantly non-Christian community will be obliged to attend public schools where the atmosphere and the mentality are alien to the Christian faith, where Sunday , the Lord’s Day, on is a school day.
The parish schools are the best environment to enhance priestly and religious vocations, and are, by excellence, ecumenical places. Since their inception they have accepted students from all communities and denominations, and offered them a solid foundation in religious, moral and intellectual education.
The parish schools work towards the human and social development of the poor population. So, improving the schools in villages helps reduce Christian emigration to the cities and to other countries,
LPS follow the official curriculum set by the Ministry of Education, in addition to the moral, civic and religious education through extra-curricular activities.
The DELPJ has started to put more emphasis on the importance of protecting the environment and the means of effective conservation measures. The Department of Education tends to develop further its programs to meet the international standard and concepts in protection, conservation of resources and water related issues.
An environmental program had been introduced to schools in both Palestine and Jordan. Environmental clubs were formed in schools. The schools club’s activities include:
Paper recycling project.
Studies in flora and fauna.
Investigations in environmental problems.
Presentations of videos and talks on environmental topics.
Camping and workshops for both students & teachers.
Practical activities such as tree planting and clean-up campaigns
DELPJ is introducing another program this year entitled, "Hearts and Hands Around the World" which will be an extremely beneficial program that will have lasting and widespread impact. Students will gain a strong sense of their place in the global community, including awareness of the needs of others, their responsibility as global citizens to address these needs, and their ability to have a positive impact on others in the world.
The "Hearts and Hands Around the World" program is based on spirituality and Christian values where faith will be reflected through a sense of service and volunteerism. God is love, and loving others is an integral component of Christianity that is exemplified through this program. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, "Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself". In Matthew 25 Jesus went on to say that when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, help a stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison, then we are doing it to Him.
The Children’s English Reading Clubs have been successfully introduced to three schools in Palestine. They provide books and materials, as well as tape recordings of books and materials, to schools and community centers. These tools provide efficient English language teaching to students eager for contact with the English-speaking world. The students will thus be better prepared to enter the global economy, where English is the dominant language.
In Jordan, DELPJ is undertaking a program to develop the administrations of the schools, arranged by the Jordanian Ministry of Education in cooperation with British expertise. The objective of this program is to achieve improved performance inside the classroom; encouraging team work spirit; drafting procedures to solve problems facing teachers; and preparing development plans for schools.
In an effort to promote cultural, ethnic and social understanding, the DELPJ sponsors a student correspondence exchange program. Working in partnership with schools abroad, children will have the opportunity to embark on a great learning experience.
The correspondence program can be effected between schools, classes or individuals. Initially, students will exchange pictures, personal history and information about particular interests such as hobbies and sports. Through ongoing correspondence, our children will come to know each other by gaining a richer knowledge of their respective cultures, and may begin long-term friendships. In a world that is growing ever smaller, students can greatly benefit from learning about each other’s life experiences and sharing their hopes , dreams and aspirations for the future.
In 1998/1999, the number of students who attended the Latin Patriarchate parish schools reached 18,883. The majority of these students are poor Christians of various rites and denominations.
Salaries and Running Costs
All of the salaries of lay people and teachers, general running costs and maintenance expenditure are covered by the Latin Patriarchate. In Israel, the government subsidizes the private religious schools; taxes paid by the parents are reimbursed to the public or private schools where the children are enrolled. Due to the fact that most of the students of parish schools come from a poor background, the tuition and fees are very low compared to other private schools in the region. Therefore, the Latin Patriarchate is unable to cover the expenses of running the schools without the help of its benefactors whose donations help defray the huge financial burden of the Patriarchate.
The early Church fathers endeavored to admit students at a nominal fee, or even gratis in most cases in order to bring up educated Christian generations. Thus, the popular notion was created--and which the Church helped in nurturing because there was no way of out of it--that the patriarchal schools are charitable, almost free, missionary schools that serve as an alternative to the public schools which were Islamic in nature. Indeed, and in most cases, the Christian student continues to this day to find himself a stranger in these public schools. Most of the Greek Orthodox and Protestant schools were also established in the nineteenth century under the same circumstances and were considered in the same vein.
Salaries and benefits:
Teachers in our schools, compared to their peers at other private schools, are under paid due to lack of capacity to cover the expenses, . Therefore, good teachers tend to leave parish schools seeking higher salary positions at other schools.
There is no defined budget for maintenance. Some of the schools are in a bad shape. Urgent maintenance work should be done in many of our schools.
The school system today, is in need of considerable upgrading, not only in infrastructure but also in the areas of teacher training and of promoting parent involvement in the teaching process. Due to the stagnation of educational development over the last thirty years, most teachers and schools are still using traditional teaching methods rather than modern methodologies in which people no longer think about education according to the traditional idea of giving and receiving information. Instead, modern educational theories see teaching as a process in which students are challenged and motivated to think, research and reflect, and in which the teachers themselves are constantly challenged to learn.
Special Education Program:
Children with learning and emotional disabilities exist in every society. A study conducted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Palestine showed that up to 10% of children suffer from learning difficulties and need some type of remedial education. To date, out of the 43 Patriarchate schools in Palestine, Jordan and Israel, only 4 have a special needs programs. These programs have been running for 3 to 4 years and have had considerable success with 80% of the students passing on to the next grades. The Patriarchate would like to be able to expand this essential program into all of its schools. This will involve training staff and hiring new special education teachers and also the translation and adaptation of teaching materials into Arabic as there is currently a lack of acceptable materials available.
The government sees counseling as such an essential service that it now requires all schools to have counselors. Consequently, we are in an immediate need of approximately thirty more counselors and a corresponding budget for this important service. Unfortunately, this is a big financial challenge; the Latin Patriarchate has hired four -4- school counselors in Palestine, and three -3-counselors in Jordan. We cant afford introducing thirtysix -36- new staff members with new salaries and benefits. We have to decide on this important issue as soon as we possible; otherwise our license wouldn’t be renewed.
English is taught as a second language in all of our schools. In addition some of our schools teach French Languages need technical assistance and support. We need to increase the hours for the language lessons and this means more staff, otherwise we will face problems with the standards in education.
Computer science is becoming vital in education. Governmental schools introduced Computer labs and teaching and all private schools did the same. As Latin Patriarchate schools, we are not allowed to stay behind and lose our students to governmental schools or others. Its a must that we establish Computer Labs and introduce computer sciences in education in all of our schools as soon as possible.
Problems and challenges:
Salaries and cost of living, pension
Losing our best teachers to other Catholic and Christian schools
Deferred Maintenance in the schools and its impact on the school environment
Lack of educational supplies
Lack of educational facilities - Labs -libraries, Art rooms, Sport, Playgrounds, Maps-
Competition within Schools and place of the Latin Schools…
Requirements of the Ministry of education -Counseling, Music, Computer Sciences-
Need for more space
Unhealthy conditions in some of our schools.
Extra Curriculum activities…there is no budget.
Urgent Budget Needs:
Additional required staff
Increase the Salaries, pension programs
The main benefactors to the Latin Patriarchate are:
The Knights and ladies of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem via Lieutenancies and of The Grand Magistere.
The Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
N.B. All the public schools in Israel, Palestine and Jordan are free of charge in primary, middle and secondary levels. In the Latin Patriarchate schools, small fees are required from those who can afford it.