Haredi girls are first to return to school

August 25, 2013 22:04

Haredim represent 18.5 percent of the total number of Israeli children in the national school system.

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Haredi girls return to school in Bnei Barak, August 26, 2013.

Haredi schoolgirls. (photo credit: Natalie Managed)

Thousands of haredi schoolgirls returned to school on Sunday, while the remainder will recommence studies on Tuesday.

Haredi boys schools began their semester at the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul, some three weeks ago.

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In total, approximately 374,000 youngsters from the haredi sector are enrolled in kindergartens, elementary and high school educational frameworks, representing 18.5 percent of Israeli schoolchildren.

But as haredi children return to school, along with their fellow pupils from broader Israeli society, the education network of the ultra-Orthodox community is facing a reduction in government funding.

Most haredi primary schoolboys attend either what are known as “Recognized but Unofficial schools” or “Exempt Institutions,” which barely teach any core subjects set by the state, preferring to teach religious studies instead.

The Education Ministry this year is reducing the maximum funding for Exempt Institutions from 55% of the funding received by non-haredi stateschools to 35%. These schools will still be obligated to teach core curriculum subjects in order to receive government funding.

At the same time, the ministry is in the process of creating a state-run haredi school system in order to better guarantee the teaching of essential subjects such as math, Hebrew and English.

In addition, legislation is in the pipe-line to abolish the so called “Nahari Law” which obligates municipal councils to provide financial support for “Recognized but Unofficial” haredi schools.

According to the ministry, the revoking this law will return NIS 400 million to the public education system.

Education Minister Shai Piron said on Sunday that as the new school year starts, the ministry is working to adapt the underlying purposes of studies to the 21st century.

“Alongside expanding knowledge, we will also work to impart tools for creative and critical thinking... and to motivate [pupils] to a life of excellence, responsibility, contribution [to society],” the minister said.

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