IDF soldiers in training .
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
A proposed bill seeks to grant two academic credits to students who serve a minimum of 10 days of reserve duty a year.
The legislation was submitted by MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu), chairwoman of the Lobby for Students and Higher Education and is being promoted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. If adopted, higher academic institutions award credits to students serving in active reserve duty.
A clause initiated by Bennett states: “An institution will recognize reserve duty as defined by law as a substitute for a ‘community involvement course,’ in other words, ‘reserve duty’ – service of at least 10 days during the Hebrew year which falls within the academic year.”
“This bill is another step for students who serve in the reserves in particular and who are involved in social activities in general,” said Ben-Ari. “We are committed to supporting and helping those students who work for the benefit of Israeli society as a whole and devote a great deal of time to its security.”
Bennett praised Ben-Ari for her cooperation in creating the proposed legislation: “The reserve soldiers take care of us, it is important that we take care of them. For the first time, universities will be required to recognize the reservists’ service as credits towards their degree.”
He added: “Reservists are the security support for the State of Israel and deserve not only respect and appreciation, but also assistance where possible.”
The bill will be brought to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, and is expected to gain the approval of the ministers.
Last year, a report by right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu revealed that the majority of higher learning institutions opt not to provide students serving in active reserve duty with academic credits, despite being permitted to do so by law.
An institution that awards credits for social activity is permitted to do the same for reserve duty, but only 16 out of the 63 institutions for higher learning in Israel have taken advantage of this law, according to the Council for Higher Education, the report said.
“This is a great day for the spearhead of Israeli society: reservists,” said Im Tirtzu chairman Matan Peleg. “This bill is a necessary recognition of the hardships and sacrifices made by IDF reservists in order to protect the State of Israel and its citizens.”