Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Ellul 5763 - September 3, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











83,621 Students Enrolled in Chareidi Education System in Jerusalem
by Betzalel Kahn

In Jerusalem, the gap between the number of students in the chareidi education system versus other sectors is widening in the 5764 school year. A total of 188,176 students are enrolled in Jerusalem schools, with 83,621 students enrolled in the chareidi education system compared to 64,201 in government and religious government schools and 40,354 in the Arab sector, according to figures presented at a press conference held by Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky last week.

Based on these numbers, excluding the Arab sector, chareidi students comprise 56.5 percent of the total. Including the Arab sector, chareidi students comprise 44 percent of all students in the city, government schools claim 34 percent and Arab schools claim 21 percent.

Last week Rabbi Lupoliansky led reporters on a tour of three schools: a Bais Yaakov school in Bayit Vegan, an Arab school in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiyah and a government school in Neveh Yaakov. During the tour and the subsequent press conference the Mayor stated the municipality's goals for the school system during the coming year and preparations made over the past several months.

Rabbi Lupoliansky was accompanied by several ranking city officials: Director-General Eitan Meir, Deputy Mayor Rabbi Uri Maklev, in charge of chareidi education; Deputy Mayor Shmuel Shakedi, in charge of general education; Department of Chareidi Education Director Rabbi Binyomin Cohen and Director Mrs. Yehudit Shalvi.

According to the figures, 16,916 children will attend the city's 619 chareidi nursery schools and kindergartens in a total of 656 classrooms (an average of over 25 children per classroom), an increase of 2 percent over last year. At the city's 138 primary education facilities 41,946 students will study in 1,699 classrooms, which represents a 4 percent increase. In the city's 134 educational institutions for upper grades, 21,959 students will study in 760 classrooms, an increase of just 1 percent.

At the 52 special education institutions, 1,141 students will study in 131 classrooms this year, an increase of 18 percent. An additional 569 students will study in preparatory and integrative programs with another 1,190 at learning centers.

The Department of Chareidi Education attributes the dramatic increase in the number of students in special education programs to increased awareness, the development of additional services and increased activity by the executive committees, which reviewed the cases of 500 students, including 200 students recently introduced into the system. Due to the pronounced increases, the City had to make special accommodations by enlarging existing educational institutions and setting up new ones.

In the coming school year, seven new first-grade classes will be opened out of the 218 additional classes. A total of 5,452 chareidi students will begin their studies in first-grade classes this year. Meanwhile 12 new kindergartens will be opened.

Spokesmen for the Department of Chareidi Education note that no dramatic change has taken place in the number of classrooms. Chareidi educational institutions still lack over 1,000 classrooms. In order to ease the problem, the Department has budgeted NIS 4 million for over 40 movable classrooms. Another 40 classrooms have been added to existing spaces and several vacated buildings have been brought up to standard for use as classroom space.

"The Ministry of Education does not do enough for education in Jerusalem," said Mayor Lupoliansky at the press conference. "Jerusalem has the most residents of any city in Israel. A family in Jerusalem is larger than a family living in Haifa. The number of students in all of Jerusalem is greater than the total number of residents in Haifa. The Ministry of Education does not provide funds proportional to the number of classrooms the City of Jerusalem should have according to its size and population, which accounts for the large shortfall. I hope Education Minister Limor Livnat rectifies the shortage by budgeting hundreds of classrooms for Jerusalem."

Rabbi Lupoliansky added that the Department of Public Facilities is working extensively with the Department of Education to solve the problems of institutions facing a severe lack of dormitory space. Although less budget funding was allocated to the municipality and despite its policy of budget cutting, the City has made available to the education departments the same sums as last year.

A survey conducted by the Department of Chareidi Education notes that last year the City was active in the area of safety on school buses. A conference on child transport safety was held for school principals in addition to a conference for bus drivers--particularly those who drive children in special education programs--to emphasize safety precautions to be practiced when transporting children. At the beginning of the school year another conference will be held for escorts.

In addition to these three conferences, the issue of caution and road safety was given high priority, including joint activity by the coordinator of road safety for the chareidi sector at the City's traffic department, whose efforts led to an impressive reduction in the number of traffic and safety violations by bus drivers. "We will make arrangements for traffic and road safety so that parents can rest assured when they send their children to educational institutions," said the Mayor.

These efforts have led to a dramatic reduction in the number of accidents and injuries in Jerusalem. During the past five years, the city has posted a 46 percent decrease in the number of traffic accidents, from 2,242 in 1998 to 2002 recently. The number of serious traffic accidents also decreased from 147 five years ago to 59 last year. In addition the number of fatal accidents dropped and the number of accidents in which schoolchildren were involved was cut in half, and no schoolchildren were involved in accidents in 2003. "All of this was the result of imbuing students with an awareness of the issue of caution and road safety," said Rabbi Lupoliansky.

The Department of Chareidi Education continued removing safety hazards at educational facilities at a cost of NIS 5 million, which comprised a considerable portion of renovation funding. In addition air conditioners were installed in 250 classrooms, due to ventilation problems and noise through open windows that disturbed classroom studies, at a cost of over NIS 1.2 million.


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