The Education Ministry has decided to cancel National Service placements in schools, starting in the next school year. The National Service failed to receive any formal notice of the cancellation, which may result in 3000 placements being annulled.
According to a Wednesday report in Hazofe Newspaper, one of the heads of the religious seminary schools for girls volunteering with the National Service, called the ministry asking about the number of school placements his seminary is supposed to fill in the coming year. "No National Service school placements are available next year," he was told.
The National Service headquarters soon found out that all placements were pulled. Education Minister Yuli Tamir, they said, is trying to cripple the religious-Zionist educational system; adding that since 2006, religious-Zionist education has taken a 35% budget cut, from NIS 60 million, to NIS 38 million ($17.5 million to $11.1 million) a year.
In recent years, more than 3,000 seminary schools' graduates have been employed as teachers by the Israeli educational system, as part of the National Service – which is an alternative to those unable to perform mandatory IDF service.
Tamir vs. Religious Zionism?
Seminary schools' graduates have been placed as special-education teachers and seminary school teachers all across Israel; as well as caregivers to children at risk, or children living in the periphery.
In many cases, in order no to cut back on the number of volunteers, the National Service has made up the budget deficit by using its own funds, causing it to run through in budget almost completely. The proverbial well, it said, has run dry.
"The education minister is knowingly and willfully, and in the name of an ideological fight against religious-Zionism, has drastically cut back on the funding of all religious-Zionism establishments, including National Service," MK Nissan Slomiansky (NU-NRP) told Ynet Wednesday.
"It is unthinkable that she would prevent these girls from serving their country to the best of their ability. The special education system stands to suffer greatly because of Tamir's ideological wars," he added.
"Any attempt to turn the seminary schools' placements crisis into a political strife is useless and harmful to the National Service," said Tamir's office in a statement.
"By portraying (National Service) as the domain of one social sector, it does nothing but diminish its national importance… The said budget has been cut as part of the overall cut placed on the Education Ministry since 2000. This cut has affected all of the ministry's operations equally.
"The fact that some are trying to politicized the situation is regrettable," concluded the statement.