Every morning the schoolyard of Schmidt’s Girls College is filled with nearly 500 girls. The school, established in 1886, is located just outside the Old City of Jerusalem, opposite Damascus gate, in the Arab part of the city. The Palestinian girls receive a high quality education from pre-school to high school diploma. The school’s educational standards are recognised both by the Palestinian authorities and the State of Israel.
Most students come from East Jerusalem, Beit Hanina, Ram, Bethlehem and other places in the West Bank. They are not only attracted by the school’s good reputation in general, but also by the special atmosphere of mutual respect between Christians and Muslims and the interfaith dialogue promoted by Schmidt’s Girls College. The co-education of Christians and Muslims (both teachers and students) is an integral part of the school’s syllabus. There is no school on Fridays and Sundays so that everybody can attend their religious services. The school has been run by Congregatio Jesu Sisters since 1989. They took over this duty from the Sisters of St. Charles who had founded the school and managed it for more than one hundred years.
The students at Schmidt’s Girls College are not only provided with an environment of openness and willingness through which to enter into an interfaith dialogue, they also receive an open-minded education in other respects: They start learning English in pre-school, German and Hebrew are introduced as elective courses in the successive years. In the upper grades, the number of subjects exclusively taught in English increases. This opportunity allows the girls to continue their studies at universities abroad.
Schmidt’s Girls College has provided thousands of students with a high quality education. They have had the chance to take their future into their own hands. They have seen that peaceful cooperation between people of different religions is possible.
The students’ parents usually pay school fees. Few families, however, are able to afford the whole amount. Their children, as well as orphans, are accepted at Schmidt’s Girls College all the same. In these cases the fees are reduced or exempted. This generous practice is only made possible by the constant support of the German Association of the Holy Land.
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