Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5763 - July 23, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Bais Yaakov Schools Reach Agreement
by Betzalel Kahn

Following several weeks of concerted efforts the Vaadas HaRabbonim LeInyonei HaSeminarim and their delegates reversed the government decree to close many seminaries and to impose quotas intended to restrict the number of teachers-in- training in the chareidi sector.

Weeks ago the Ministry of Education announced intentions to limit the number of students at seminaries for teachers and kindergarten and nursery-school teachers based on claims there was no need for so many students to receive teaching certificates during a time of budget cutting under the new economic plan. Numerous seminaries across the country received notices they would no longer be certified for pedagogical studies, would not receive funding and would not be able to issue teaching certificates. Various seminaries also received instructions to limit admissions and to impose quotas on the number of students enrolled in teacher-training programs.

Within a short period of time some 15 seminaries would have been forced to close their doors and tight quotas would have been instituted at the other seminaries, threatening to displace a number of students from Bais Yaakov schools entirely.

Meanwhile another source of pressure on the Bais Yaakov system came from a pending High Court appeal that claimed that the chareidi sector was enjoying preferential treatment since seminaries award teaching credentials after only two years of study, while in the general sector teaching certification requires a minimum of four years of study. In response to this court case, the Education Ministry proposed requiring a third year of full-time study at seminaries in order to receive a teaching license.

As early as last year the Education Ministry already began refusing to recognize new seminaries opened in response to the natural chareidi population growth. A handful of new seminaries managed to operate as "extensions" of existing schools, but others were not recognized at all.

The campaign to annul the decrees, headed by HaRav Nosson Zochovsky, HaRav Yosef Efrati and HaRav Aryeh Dvir, succeeded in reversing the third-year requirement the Education Ministry has been trying to impose in recent years despite longstanding opposition by maranan verabonon. There was a concern that the age of marriage would climb if there were another year of regular schooling for the young women. On the other hand, there is a desire to provide a proper, structured environment for most girls until they are ready to marry.

The Ministry agreed that senior teachers' certificates would be available only through evening courses held once or twice per week over a few years rather than a third year of mandatory full-time study.

At the end of the program that extends for two years past high school graduation, students will be eligible to receive temporary teaching certificates valid for a period of six years. During those six years they will have the option to complete the classroom hours required for a senior teacher's certificate, in parallel with working as teachers. The outside work should take no more than four years of part-time study.

The two years of study (grades 13 and 14) are to be continued for all girls, to study education and limudei kodesh, but the hours of instruction will be reduced by 17.5 percent by cutting out the practical classroom training that has been part of the program. This will reduce the cost of those years, without reducing the limudei kodesh.

Furthermore the agreement stipulates that the number of girls enrolled in seminaries will be in accordance with the needs of the chareidi education system. In practice the concept of "extensions" of seminaries will be eradicated since the Education Ministry will recognize all existing seminaries.

The rabbonim assigned to negotiate with Education Ministry officials consulted with gedolei Yisroel on a daily basis, presenting each and every clause before them. Throughout the process the primary concern driving maranan verabonon was to ensure every student would be able to attend a seminary and receive a teaching credential after two years of study, conditions they deemed of utmost importance for the proper education of benos Yisroel.

In tandem with their efforts to annul the decrees restricting seminaries gedolei Yisroel reiterated their objection to breaches at certain seminaries that require a full third year of study and offer extension courses leading to a B.A. degree.


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