The outline initiated by the Jerusalem Municipality for constructing 1,000 new, standardized classrooms across Jerusalem has begun, in order to provide a solution to the existing lack of classroom space across all sectors of the city.
Over many years, a significant lack of thousands of classrooms has been created in the city, as a result of the lack of State investment and ignoring the city’s natural growth, which stands at 186 classrooms per year in the country’s largest education system, serving close to 300,000 students. We mapped the system and found that, more than 3,800 classrooms are currently lacking: around 505 in the general sector, around 1,938 in the Arab sector, and around 1,410 in the Haredi sector. Closing the gap entirely is estimated to cost around 5 million NIS.
The current breakthrough is possible as a result of a unique economic model initiated by Mayor Barkat. The fundraising of 1 billion NIS from a number of sources of financing, led by Bank Leumi, was used to construct the first 1,000 classes. Construction of the permanent classrooms will eventually save around 140 million NIS per year, which the municipality currently invests every year from its budget for temporary buildings and preparing them for use. Following approval of the program outline, the Ministry of the Interior approved the first step for the loan this week, to the tune of 370 million NIS, and received approval from Bank Leumi for the full amount to allow construction of 370 new classrooms immediately.
Under the guidance of the mayor, we will focus on advancing and shortening the processes for accelerating construction. Led by the City Manager, a professional project for planning, carrying out, and financing the construction of thousands of needed kindergarten and school classrooms was initiated. We established a special administration for building the classrooms, which will operate under the Moriya company (the Municipality’s subsidiary) to identify land to plan and construct classrooms across the city. The local authority is working alongside it, led by the Local Government Economic Services company, which manages construction endeavors for the city’s educational institutions. It intends to act to shorten planning and construction times in order to complete the project within 1.5-2 years—approximately a year less than standard practice. The new classrooms will be built alongside laboratories, libraries, activity spaces, and more.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat noted that “I decided not to give in to the bureaucracy and not to wait for a miracle to bring money from the government to build classrooms. Jerusalem’s students deserve more. The economic model that we created, with out-of-the-box thinking, for constructing the classrooms is groundbreaking and is great news for the residents. It is our duty to provide every student with the proper conditions for studying and success. I thank the Ministry of the Interior and Bank Leumi for their support, we are rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.”