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Reforms to education system target haredim
By
April 25, 2013 00:50
School budgets, subsidies for daycare and municipal taxes to be cut in Lapid’s proposed legislation.
Haredi schools

Shas schools 311. (photo credit:Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Finance Ministry plans to make deep cuts in funding to schools that do not teach core curriculum subjects, it emerged in Wednesday.

The reforms are being aimed at haredi schools in particular, which do not teach the core curriculum subjects of math, Hebrew and English but still receive state funding.



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According to the draft of the Economic Arrangements Law — a government bill presented alongside the budget — haredi schools will need to dedicate at least 55 percent of school hours to teaching the core curriculum to receive any state funds.

Schools teaching less than 75% of the basic studies will receiving just 55% of the funding that schools teaching the full curriculum receive.

Haredi schools will also be required to enter pupils into standardized testing to qualify for government funding.

In the current arrangement, elementary schools in the Ashkenazi haredi education system receive between 55% and 75% of the budget received by non-haredi schools and are expected to teach a corresponding proportion of the state core curriculum. In practice, the overwhelming majority of haredi high schools teach no secular subjects whatsoever.

The haredi education system is closely guarded by the community’s leadership, and is viewed as foundational to haredi identity and society.

“The number of pupils in educational institutes in the haredi sector is expected to reach 26% of all Israeli pupils by the end of the decade,” the Economic Arrangements Bill explains.

“The rate of employment and productivity in the haredi sector are substantially lower than in the general population, in part because of the absence of basic studies which constitute a central component in the acquisition of the appropriate tools to enter the job market.”

Under the bill, child daycare subsidies and municipal tax discounts for households will also be revoked unless both parents are employed and working to the fullest extent of their capabilities.

Speaking on Tuesday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said he was going to war for the working man.

“The working man has been neglected for too many years and the time has come to turn the ship around,” Lapid said at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

“If someone healthy who can work thinks he’s exempt from it, he needs to know that we will not pay his bills,” the new finance minister said.

“If child daycare costs a working mother NIS 1,000 more than [it does for] a mother who doesn’t work then someone has sold us out,” he said.

The bill will be presented on Thursday to the Attorney-General’s Office for approval.

An official within the United Torah Judaism party described the terms of the bill as “a massive blow to haredi society.”

“It’s a destructive program to harm haredi society and coerce haredim into a way of life they don’t want,” said the UTJ source.

He added that the revocation of child-daycare would lead haredi women, whose level of employment is only slightly below that of women from the general public, to leave the workforce.

If the prime minister “continues to let Lapid take control, the haredi community will not stay quiet much longer,” the official said.
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