Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett unveiled a new plan on Tuesday to increase motivation for enlistment into combat units in the IDF among students.
One of the main goals of the program seeks to double the number of students registering for preparatory frameworks for the IDF from 5,000 to 10,000 youth.
As part of the plan, IDF combat bases will “adopt” schools, combat officers will visit and lecture in schools, and students will take tours of IDF basis – all in an effort to motivate “significant” service.
Bennett has allocated an additional NIS 33 million to the project, bringing the total cost to NIS 80m., up from NIS 47m. in 2014.
“Alongside excellence in achievements in mathematics and in English and other subjects, we at the education ministry are also working to instill values of Zionism,” Bennett said. “Therefore I instructed the education system to join forces with the IDF and the defense ministry for a program to increase motivation to serve in combat units in the IDF.”
He added: “On the 70th year of the State of Israel, serving in the IDF is not only an ordinary civilian duty, but also a great privilege and a national mission of the utmost importance.”
The program was developed by a team of professionals, headed by ministry director- general Shmuel Abuav, in cooperation with the Defense Ministry and the IDF.
“We have mapped out all the various programs that prepare the students for recruitment and we have defined clear goals along with work plans for each program,” said Abuav. “Following the implementation of the program, students will become more familiar, more experienced and more exposed to lectures by officers.”
According to data released by the Defense Ministry in December, there is a continued trend of IDF draftees being less motivated to serve as combat soldiers in the IDF.
A senior IDF officer said last month that there has been a slight decrease in combat recruitment since 2016 and it is expected to continue to drop. The main units feeling the pressure from the lack of motivation are Combat Engineers, the Armored Corps and Artillery.
Despite this, the IDF has seen an increase of motivation by female recruits to serve in co-ed combat units over the past five years: From 547 in 2012 to 2,656 in 2017.Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.