More kids join youth movements [p. 6]

Participation in youth movements from the fourth to the ninth grades rose by 20 percent over the past year, according to a study released this week by the Education Ministry. Education Minister Yuli Tamir welcomed the study's findings, calling them a "welcome and important trend" and promising her commitment to the movements as an important part of the educational system. The study, which took over a year to complete, included interviews with some 23,000 counselors and surveys filled out by 265,000 members, along with visits to branch offices for interviews with branch directors. Its purpose was threefold: determining whether the movements met required conditions for financial support by the state; calculating the relative sizes of the movements; and giving feedback to the Education Ministry and the movements regarding activities, training and values that could help the groups improve. According to Tamir, the study's successful conclusion, alongside an increased budget for youth movement support, would "allow the movements to focus on expanding their ongoing activities, developing educational programs and instilling values in the pupils and counselors," according to the ministry. To that end, Tamir instructed Education Ministry professionals to conduct an ongoing dialogue with the youth movements in order to assist in gleaning lessons that could help the movements improve in any areas found lacking. According to the study, participation in the movements rose from 147,000 pupils last year to 175,000 in the coming year. The study ranks the movements according to relative size on a nine-level scale, where level nine is 25% of total youth movement pupils and level one is between 1% and 2%. The only level-nine movement, with 25.8% of all movement pupils, is the Israel Scouts. At level eight, with 22.6%, stands Hanoar Haoved Ve'halomed (Working and Learning Youth). It is followed at level seven with Bnei Akiva (16.2%), at level six with B'not Batya (14.6%) and at level four with the combined Hashomer Hatzair and Noar Aravi (4.1%).