Employment fair in Jerusalem for men and women from the haredi sector,.
(photo credit: KIVUN JERUSALEM)
The Council for Higher Education (CHE) and its Planning and Budgetary Committee (PBC) on Monday announced a five-year plan for making higher education more accessible to the ultra-Orthodox sector.
The plan was compiled following an external study which examined the PBC’s previous five-year plan with regard to the haredi population and offered recommendations for the next five years.
Both the study and the plan were made available on the council’s website in Hebrew so that the general public could review it, comment and offer suggestions directly to the council over the course of the next three months.
“Integrating haredim into higher education is a clear interest of the state. And in light of the importance of this issue, the State of Israel invests many resources in it, especially in recent years. Higher education has become a basic requirement for integration and success in the labor market. A major share of professions and fields are blocked to those who lack this education,” the plan states.
“In the last 30 years, the ultra-Orthodox population has minimally enrolled in higher education programs, and the rate of participation of haredi men in the workforce is very low,” the plan states.
According to the external study, as part of the previous five-year plan, the PBC and CHE were able to increase the number of haredi students in higher education to 11,000 in the 2015/16 academic year as well as increase the number of programs for haredim from 62 to 110 over the five-year period.
The new five-year plan aims to continue increasing the number of ultra-Orthodox students pursuing higher education degrees, while simultaneously placing an emphasis on high-quality academics to train them.
The plan also emphasizes the need for separate programs for ultra-Orthodox students that take into consideration their religious, cultural as well as differing academic needs.
“Despite the progress and the continued reduction of separation fences, the majority of the ultra-Orthodox population still needs separate frameworks in order to reach higher education,” the proposed plan states.
The external study estimated that 70 percent of ultra-Orthodox students would not attend higher education frameworks that are not separated by gender. At the same time, the report found that 30% of haredi students would be interested in going to university.
To that end, the new plan seeks to strengthen and expand the current frameworks to accept more haredim and offer them more study programs. At the same time, however, it examines the possibility of “blurring” the lines of separation by offering programs that over time become less segregated.
The plan also seeks to raise significantly the demand for teaching certification programs that are adapted to the ultra-Orthodox community, with an emphasis on basic curriculum studies as well as the development programs in the sciences and engineering.