Course for teachers making Aliya eliminated

Immigrant Absorption Ministry and Nefesh B'Nefesh criticize Education Ministry decision; vow to fight move at highest levels.

The Education Ministry has eliminated a long-running course that formally accredits new immigrant teachers and enables them to work in Israel. The Ministry has also fired all of its ‘Morim Olim,’ whose job was to assist immigrant teachers to navigate the bureaucracy of the education system, The Jerusalem Post learned Wednesday.
In a statement to the Post, an Education Ministry spokeswoman explained that the move was made ahead of this academic year following recommendations in the State Comptroller’s report to streamline the process. The new olim teachers would now be able to receive assistance from the education departments in their regions, she said, just as do native-born and locally trained teachers.
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However, both the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and aliya organization Nefesh B’Nefesh, which assists in the absorption of English-speaking immigrants, have criticized the decision and both say they plan to fight the move at the highest levels.
“We demand that an appropriate response be provided for the treatment of new immigrant teachers as soon as possible and that ‘Morim Olim’ be reinstated in order to reduce any damage that has been done to new immigrant teachers, who must also deal with the multitude of immigration challenges.” So wrote Dimitri Apartsez, Director General of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, to his counterpart at the Education Ministry Shimshon Shoshani, in an October 11 letter.
“This is an absurd decision considering that the country is in need of teachers and that there is a budget exactly for this purpose; now hundreds of immigrant teachers will remain unemployed,” wrote Apartsez, emphasizing that each ministry is given a budget for enhancing immigrant employment in its sector.
A spokeswoman for Nefesh B’Nefesh said the move was “very unfortunate.”
“We are very aware of this problem and we have taken the issue to the highest authority within the Education Ministry in the hopes of finding a solution,” she said.
Avraham Pinson, a trained high school teacher from Baltimore who made aliya in 2008, said he had been hoping to take the ministry’s free accreditation course this semester. However, after signing up for it last spring and making plans accordingly, Pinson found out that it had been scrapped purely by chance, when he called last month to finalize the details.
“The situation is pretty crazy and now I am left just kind of hanging here,” said Pinson, who now lives in Jerusalem. “I have found another program, a masters’ degree in education, but it takes place in Tel Aviv and am not sure it’s really for me.
“Any other course I apply for will cost me a lot of money and will mean a lot more studies.,” lamented Pinson. “Even if I want to become an English teacher or give private lessons, I still need to be certified. I am very down about it. This is my profession and I don’t think I can advance in it unless I can do this course,” he added.
Commented one teacher, a veteran immigrant, who preferred to remain anonymous, “They [Morim Olim] helped us cut through all the bureaucracy as much as they could. Even after 12 years I still don’t understand all the ins and outs of the education system, and most oleh teachers don’t know how to get such benefits as teacher service credits, which raise your salary,” he said.
Added the teacher, “[The department] was responsible for English speakers and Russian speakers, and helped us to navigate the system and knock on people’s doors until the matter was resolved. The ministry is penny wise and pound foolish.
They’re going to lose a whole bunch of great oleh teachers who will get sick and tired of the system. Many of us give up a great deal to come here, and they have a sink or swim attitude towards us.”
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.