Thousands of Palestinian students in East Jerusalem are denied access to free public education, although Israeli law entitles them to it. One of the main problems is the shortage of over 1,000 classrooms.
The Israeli High Court has deliberated this shortage of classrooms in East Jerusalem several times in recent years, and ruled that the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality must build the much needed classrooms. Yet despite repeated goverment promises to the Court to resolve this shortage, hundreds of classrooms still have not been built, and the classroom shortage has steadily worsened.
As a result of this classroom shortage, the municipal school system is unable to absorb all the children who want to attend the municipal schools. Every year MANHI (the Jerusalem Municipal Education Administration) rejects a large number of Palestinian children, due to lack of space in the educational institutions. This defies the law as well as the regulations of the director general of the Ministry of Education.
In 2010, only about half of the Palestinian children in East Jerusalem – about 40,700 out of about 90,000 students – study in the municipal school system. Another 40,000 Palestinian children attend private or "recognized yet unofficial" schools. These schools are operated by churches, the Waqf, the United Nations and various Palestinian groups. Studies in many of these schools are quite expensive. In addition, approximately 5,500 students are not registered in any of the above mentioned frameworks
MANHI does not keep track of rejected registration requests, and therefore does not have any accurate statistics regarding the number of students who wish to study in the municipal school system, but are denied admission.
The ongoing neglect of the public educational system in East Jerusalem has reached a crisis point; today, thousands of additional classrooms need to be built overnight in order to accommodate the growing needs of the residents.