Only a fifth of religious girls enlist into the military, however more opt for officer courses than secular girls, findings of a new survey showed.
The Knesset's research center commissioned the report ahead of a conference set to be held Wednesday at the Knesset's Educational Committee which will focus on religious girls' enlistment into the IDF.
Report findings show that the rate of voluntary enlistment into officer courses among religious girls stands at 7.5 percent, as opposed to 6.9 percent among secular girls.
It was also found that in 2005, 1,581 religious girls enlisted into the military; this figure represents 21.5 percent of the year's religious high school graduates. The report also revealed that during the last decade, more religious girls preferred enlisting into the IDF. Yet as the Religious Education Administration opposes enlistment, many schools do not permit IDF representatives to conduct preparatory activities ahead of possible service.
Chairman of the Knesset's Education Committee, Michal Melchior, who initiated the conference, said the Education Ministry must act to enable IDF representatives to appear in front of religious girls and to present the possibilities the IDF offers.
"I am not taking a moral stand on the question of whether girls should enlist into the IDF, but a girl who is interested in serving in the military must be able to receive maximum aid and support from the educational institution, both morally and pragmatically," said Melchior.
"The army is interested in enlisting religious recruits because they are high achievers, and has therefore opened a versatile range of courses for them. I don't expect them to encourage the girls to enlist, but support should be assured. Girls who enlist anyway, do not receive guidance and assistance as do other girls," he added.
It should be noted that in order to encourage religious girls to join the military service, the IDF is careful to place several religious girls together so that they will not feel isolated.
Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav said the Religious Education Administration's policy for the past few years has been to encourage girls from the religious sector to volunteer for national service.
According to Abuav, girls who would like to enlist receive training ahead of their enlistment via the ministry's Youth and Social Administration.