March of the Living at Auschwitz 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Peter Andrews)
The government will begin spending NIS 50 million a year to subsidize school trips to Poland in an effort to make the trips available to a broader cross-section of the population, the Education Ministry announced on Monday.
The ministry said it expects the supplements, which will begin in 2012, will significantly increase the number of students who can participate in the trip.
Of the NIS 50 million in supplements, NIS 35 million will come from the Education Ministry and the rest will come from the Union of Local Authorities, the ministry said.
The annual “March of the Living” brings together thousands of high school students from Israel and across the Diaspora to Poland, where they visit sites from the Nazi Holocaust and take part in a march from Auschwitz I to Birkenau, the death camp of Auschwitz II, on Holocaust Memorial Day. Participation in the trip costs around NIS 5,400 and has earned the trip the reputation of being only for students from well-off families.
The amount of financial assistance students receive from the government
will depend solely on their family’s economic standing, with students
from the lowest socioeconomic levels receiving a supplement of 70
percent of the cost of the trip, those on the next two levels receiving
between 30-45% and those on the highest socioeconomic standing receiving
no supplement unless approved by a special committee.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said Monday that the trips to Poland are
of great national and social importance, and “contribute to Jewish
identity and our feeling of obligation to remember the Holocaust and the
founding of the State of Israel, which is the state of the Jewish
Sa’ar added that the supplements represent “an important social step,
which will cancel an unjust obstacle which keeps students from taking
part based on their socioeconomic standing at home.”
In January, the ministry announced plans to spend NIS 15 million over
the next school year to raise the number of students taking school trips
to Jerusalem. Sa’ar has also ordered his ministry to raise the number
of students taking part in “Israeli journey,” a six-day school field
trip the ministry devotes to the enrichment of Jewish and Zionist