Haredi students in classroom.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Education Ministry released a memorandum of a new bill on Sunday calling to cancel core curriculum requirements in haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools as a prerequisite for government funding.
The bill aims to repeal the law passed during the previous government by Yesh Atid and then education minister Shai Piron, which conditioned the budget received by schools on the teaching of at least 11 hours per week of English, math and science, dubbed the core curriculum.
The law was supposed to reduce the funding of what are known as “exempt institutions,” which the majority of male haredi pupils attend for their elementary education.
While the bill was never properly enforced, United Torah Judaism insisted in its coalition agreement with the Likud that the law be repealed, for fear that it could be enforced in the future.
The new bill would effectively abolish the need for haredi schools to teach the core curriculum and will grant the education minister broad authority to determine which schools to budget without any restrictions or conditions.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett initially opposed canceling the law, but has since agreed to draft and advance the government bill as part of the coalition agreement.
The new bill is expected to pass the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the coming weeks.
Yesh Atid released a statement on Sunday accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of placing political interests above the good of Israeli children.
“This bill is unfair to haredi students and will prevent them the possibility of respectfully supporting themselves and their families in the future and is not fair towards the secular and religious children on whom the burden [to support them] will fall in the future,” Yesh Atid said.
“How will the ultra-Orthodox youth support themselves without mathematics and English and without a basic toolbox for the labor market? And if they won’t support themselves, who will support them?” the party asked.
Yesh Atid said that it will hold a no-confidence vote in the Knesset on Monday, led by MK Elazar Stern, regarding the cancellation of the core curriculum law.
Rabbi Uri Regev, head of the NGO Hiddush, which advocates for religious freedom and equality, also slammed the coalition partners for agreeing to repeal the law.
Regev said: “The government is aware of the public opposition to this dangerous step, and the fierce opposition of the country’s top economists – but under blackmail and threats of the ultra-Orthodox parties,” the government does not heed their warnings.
“With respect to the coalition agreements it is difficult to understand how Netanyahu, Lieberman, Bennett, and Kahlon, explain to themselves this move which is so anti-Zionist and so anti-Nationalistic. This is a government that is pretend nationalistic and pretend Zionist,” Regev said.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.