Officials within the haredi educational system responded Wednesday to the reforms Finance Minister Yair Lapid seeks to impose on the ultra-Orthodox education, saying they are too radical, detached from reality and would do more harm than good.
The Arrangements Law, set to be submitted to the Knesset for approval by Lapid, includes cuts in the funding of unofficial educational institutions which do not teach core curriculum subjects. According to the law, the State will only subsidize ultra-Orthodox institutions which teach at least 55% of the core subjects.
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An additional demand posed to ultra-Orthodox institutions is participation in tests examining schools' efficiency and growth measures (known as Meitzav tests) at the same extent and format as an official educational institution.
Haredi Yeshiva association head Rabbi Shlomo Brilliant said the measure, aimed to force the hand of haredi officials toward the introduction of "core curriculum subjects" to the religious schools programs, represented not a cut but a wholesale elimination.
"Today we have 280 small yeshivas schooling some 25,000 students from 9th grade to 12th grade that study only Torah throughout the day, with no 'core subjects' whatsoever. State funding covers about 60% of the classes cost, approximately NIS 500 (roughly $138) per month for each student. This money goes to the teachers, and the rest is paid by the parents."
Brilliant said the measure proposed by Lapid "would simply spell the end of those schools, as it's out to make them study core subjects, which simply will never happen. We shall not let it happen."
The official added it would mean the institutions would have to look for patrons other than the State.
The draft law also stipulates Shas party's educational network, Maayan Hahinuch Hatorani, and the Independent Education System will only be funded according to the actual percentage of core studies up to a maximum of 75%.
A Jerusalem teacher said the proposal was profoundly counterproductive, as the institutions in question, which teach 100% of the core subjects, will adjust to the measure by cutting precisely those subjects.
"Lapid effectively places spokes in his own wheels," the teacher added.
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