The government approved on Sunday the cancellation of core subject requirements for ultra-Orthodox educational institutions. The move will mean that these institutions will now eligible for government funding without teaching their pupils basic subjects such as math, science, and English.
Minister of Science, Technology, and Space Ofir Akunis (Likud) left the government meeting in protest ahead of the vote saying, "I am for all Israeli children learning English, mathematics, and science. It's the right and just thing which preserves the children of Israel and the whole state as a groundbreaker and innovater in the world. This cancellation is an error."
The initiative to cancel the requirement was only recently promoted,much to the dismay of Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Last week, a memorandum on the issue was released following an agreement with the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party. The legal adjustment effectively annuls a planned reform, which was intended to make the teaching of core subjects a condition upon which the funding of ultra-Orthodox education institutions would be dependent.
The core subjects requirements were part of a platform put forth by the Yesh Atid party during the time of the previous government, specifically by former Education Minister Shai Piron. According to the plan, the amount of funding educational institutions would receive would be commensurate with the empahsis placed on the teaching of core subjects, with those choosing to negelect their teaching receiving no government funding at all.
These core subjects include languages, literature, mathematics, nature, and science and technology. The actions are based on a coalition agreement put in place before the formation of the current government, as part of the ultra-Orthodox parties' conditions for joining it.
While the ultra-Orthodox parties agreed to postpone the cancellation, they did not give up their efforts to stymie the new laws which were set to be implemented at the start of 2017. Around 430,000 pupils are currently studying in ultra-Orthodox education institutions and he new turn of events will affect some 30,000.
Officials from Yesh Atid responded to the government's actions by saying, "The Israeli government is leading an underhanded move to cancel mathematics and English studies for Israeli children. The government continues to move Israel backwards. All it cares about is politics in order to hold onto its seat. Everything is permitted."