Our in-depth series on the schools of the Custody of the Holy Land continues. They are strongholds that never before as today are necessary and fundamental to teach peace and guarantee a future of coexistence and respect.
After the interviews with fra Ibrahim Faltas, the director of the Terra Sancta Schools, and with the Custody’s Treasurer, fr. Tony Choukry, today let’s have a closer look at the school in Akko, where we meet Fra Badie Elias, head of the school of the city where St Francis of Assisi landed in 1220.
The Franciscan presence in Akko has gone through alternating phases, from 1620, when the Franciscans settled down definitively in Khan El-Franj, today the oldest caravanserai remaining in the city, built by the French in the middle of the 16th century in the central courtyard of the Venetian Crusader quarter.
Fra Badie, it was exactly here, in the Khan El-Franj, that the first school, the point of reference for education but also for intercultural encounters, was founded in 1620.
This school has a long story, and not only from the historical point of view! Over the centuries, we remained a fundamental point of reference to create dialogue and a bridge between cultures. Very many important figures from the political and civil society of the whole of Galilee attended or school and took their certificates here. And thanks to our mission, they were able to make their precious contribution to society.
Can you give us some numbers about the Akko school?
There are 520 pupils in the school 75% of whom are Muslims and only 25% are Christians: we are committed to welcoming everyone, following a complete educational path, from pre-school to high school. Most of the pupils who pass their high school leaving certificate then go on to university and this is a tangible sign of the quality of our education. Our school is considered one of the best schools in Akko not only for the standard of teaching, but for the passion that we put into following each youngster with care and attention.
We treat them all as though they were our children: for us the centrality of the educational message lies in helping them to develop the most important virtues, which are love and respect for others. War teaches us only that at the end there are neither winners nor losers and that what is necessary is to learn how to live together.
What are your extra-curricular activities?
We try to keep up with the times and our activities open up to looking for paths that can help not only the pupils but also parents and teachers to interface with the problems of our times. Recently, for example, we organized a lecture with the police to speak about the dangers of the Internet and all the issues linked to the web. Prevention is extremely important for us.
New facilities were inaugurated in September.
The school, from the point of view of its facilities, needed some urgent work. We wanted to give the school “new life”, completely renovating the classrooms and inaugurating them on 1 September. Now youngsters can have their lessons in suitable premises and we continue our commitment to keep modern and functional building: this will reflect positively on the pupils and their creativity.
You can support the Terra Sancta Schools through the DONATE NOW page on the website of the Custody of the Holy Land and the next Collection , which will be on Good Friday, 29 March, all over the world. This is the main source for supporting life around the Holy Places.