Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav has vowed to do everything possible to increase the motivation of the city's high school students to go in to combat units when doing their military service, reports www.mynet.co.il. Yahav made the statement after the IDF recently released a list of schools with the highest numbers of graduates going into combat units, and not one Haifa school made it into the top 50 - although plenty appeared in the bottom 50.
According to the report, the IDF gathered information from 2005 to 2007 to prepare a list of the schools that produced the most combat soldiers. Kfar Saba proved to be the most motivated city in Israel overall, and was the only city to have all four of its high schools appearing in the top 50. The percentage of boys going into combat units in Kfar Saba ranged from 76.72 percent at the Katzenelsen School to 78.87% at the Herzog School, while the girls seemed to be even more motivated, with 83.33% of Katzenelsen's girls going into combat units.
But the report said that Haifa, with a much larger population and many more schools, had much more disappointing results. Seven of the city's schools were in the bottom 50, including Amal, Ironi Alef and Ankori. It said that despite the low numbers in general, in a few Haifa schools surprisingly high numbers of girls went into combat units, including 82% of the girls at Leo Baeck and 81% of the girls at Reali. A spokeswoman at Leo Baeck said it was not that the boys at the school were unmotivated, but the opposite - because of the school's emphasis on sciences and Arabic, many were drawn to long-term military service in the air force or intelligence units instead of shorter service in combat units.
In response to the findings, Yahav said he wants to increase the motivation of Haifa's students to go into combat units, saying that military service was one of the "most significant and important periods" in anyone's life, and that serving in a combat unit was an opportunity to develop personal skills and abilities and combine them with the needs of the country.
"The city of Haifa will do everything required to increase the motivation to serve in combat units," he said. The city has already set up a committee of municipal, military and Education Ministry officials that aims to increase the preparedness of 11th- and 12th-grade students - and their parents - for military service and to encourage their participation in combat units.