Shas schools 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas’s Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani educational network will revert to taking part in
the Meitzav achievement exams after a three-year hiatus, the Education Ministry
informed the High Court of Justice on Monday.
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The announcement was part
of the ministry’s answer to a petition filed by the Israel Religious Action
Center (IRAC) last year, which charged that the state had failed to keep its
promise to increase the supervision of the haredi schools regarding not only the
core curriculum – which still applies to recognized but unofficial primary and
secondary schools and “exempted” schools – but also other standards, such as the
minimum number of visits by school supervisors each year, the number of teaching
hours, the schoolbooks in the curriculum, the levels of learning achievement,
and so on.
The exams, set to take place in May, are used to measure
growth and efficiency in the country’s schools. They are given to fifth- and
eighth-graders once every two years, and test the pupils’ knowledge of math,
science, Hebrew and English.
A spokesman for the Education Ministry
called the network’s acquiescence to conduct the tests “an achievement,” and
noted that the process leading to it had been part of Education Minister Gidon
Sa’ar’s general approach of conducting dialogue with the haredi educational
While there are certain demands that cannot be waived, it would
be wrong to forcefully impose them, the spokesman said. He added that the
ministry hoped a similar understanding would be reached with the Ashkenazi
haredi Independent Education Center.
Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani
director-general Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur explained to The Jerusalem Post that
following the understandings recently reached with the Education Ministry –
under which his school system would make modifications to the tests’ style, such
as using language, texts and expressions suitable to the haredi network – the
managers and rabbis of Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani “saw no reason to refrain from the
It was a disagreement over these matters that had caused his
network to cease taking part in the tests, he noted, and added that such tests
“could definitely benefit us; they give us a good indication of our
Rabbi Uri Regev, head of the NGO Hiddush – For Religious Freedom
and Equality, called the development “a step forward in the effort to bring
secular studies into the haredi educational system.” However, he noted that most
Ma’ayan Hinuch Torani pupils were actually not from haredi families, and that
the Education Ministry’s true test would be to reach such understandings with
the Ashkenazi haredi educational system.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed
to this report.