1,500 new classrooms needed in east Jerusalem

Head of the Knesset Education Committee Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) called on the prime minister on Monday to get involved in upholding the mandatory education law in east Jerusalem. An additional 1,500 classrooms are needed for students from kindergarten to 12th grade, the committee was told. Moreover, 15,000 children aged three and four have only two classrooms, and at least 1,660 three- to four-year-olds are at risk of developmental difficulties. Dr. Shai Canaani, deputy head of the development authority in the Education Ministry, explained that the major obstacle to building classrooms was lack of land upon which to build them. He said the ministry was checking the feasibility of three options: building taller buildings, building smaller classrooms, and expropriating land. The land would not necessarily be expropriated from its owners but rather expropriated for use. In other words, the owners would still own the land, but it would be used for classrooms, the committee was told. Melchior called on the prime minister to find the budget to build classrooms in east Jerusalem and called on the Education and Welfare Ministries to act immediately to find a solution for all those students without classrooms. The committee also decided to discuss an education law for children aged three and four.