Haredi education - will general studies be included?
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Struggle over core studies: Students in Sephardic Ma'ayan HaChinuch HaTorani haredi schools will once again be taking the 'Meitzav' exams, the Education Ministry announced Monday in response to an appeal presented by the Reform Movement before the High Court of Justice on the issue of core studies. Around 40,000 students currently study at Ma'ayan HaChinuch HaTorani schools.
The “Meitzav” exams, a Hebrew acronym for school growth and efficiency indicators, are standardized tests that are given to pupils countrywide at the end of the each school year. They are meant to specify just how well Israeli junior high and high school pupils are meeting the benchmarks and standards specified in school curriculums.
The Education Ministry's response to the High Court reveals that Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and the heads of Shas' Ma'ayan HaChinuch HaTorani schools reached an agreement which would see the haredi schools taking part in the Meitzav exams which will be held next May.
The Ma'ayan HaChinuch HaTorani's management decided to boycott the exams three years ago. In addition, the agreement states that the tests will include certain adjustments, in illustrations and questions which will make them suitable for the haredi population from a cultural perspective.
A source well versed on the issue said that there is a great deal of importance to the fact that the haredi education system will once again take part in the Meitzav exams, as it is the only way to inspect the quality of studies of core subjects in schools. "This is definitely a step in the right direction which means that the Shas education system is part of the Israeli system, not working as a separate body."
What about Ashkenazi schools?And yet, the source added that "Ma'ayan HaChinuch HaTorani is just one factor within the haredi education system and at the moment, there is no basis to assume that other haredi institutions will join in and take the exams."
The director of Hiddush - For Religious Freedom and Equality – Rabbi Uri Regev said: "Including the Meitzav tests in the Shas education system is a step forward in efforts to integrate general studies into the haredi education system, which will allow the state to follow up on the quality of education in the schools in a real and meaningful way.
"And yet, it is important to remember most students in the Shas education system don't come from a haredi background and the Education Ministry's real test is to introduce math, science, English and civics studies together with the Meitzav exams into the Ashkenazi haredi education institutions."
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