Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Teves 5767 - December 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Government Supports Equality for Chareidi Students

By Betzalel Kahn

The government decided this week to approve a proposed law by Minister Meshulam Nahari that would legally require local authorities to provide recognized-but-unofficial educational institutions (meaning Chinuch Atzmai and Maayan Hachinuch Hatorani) the same funding that government schools receive. The government decided that the Education Minister would draft the bill before it is brought before the government and the Knesset. The proposal resembles proposals submitted by MKs Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz and Rabbi Moshe Gafni.

Recently the Justice Ministry instructed local authorities to stop funding chareidi institutions, claiming that the law requiring equality for Chinuch Atzmai and Maayan Hachinuch Hatorani students applies only to state funding, not to local funding.

After the Justice Ministry issued that directive, Chinuch Atzmai schools in Jerusalem stopped receiving municipal services. Following a one-day strike and public pressure the Justice Ministry decided to continue funding municipal services for a few more months.

Minister Nahari's proposed amendment to require equal funding was criticized by the Education Ministry and the Center for Local Government based on claims that it would strengthen private education at the expense of government education. They also argued the law would impose a heavy financial burden on the local authorities, overlooking the fact chareidi residents pay municipal taxes just like every other civilian and are entitled to equal funding and rights.

When the law was presented at the most recent cabinet meeting ministers were shown comparative figures for the chareidi and government education systems showing that the proportion of students enrolled at recognized but unofficial schools has been increasing steadily from year to year. In 5720 (1960-61) chareidi students accounted for just 6.6 percent of all students in Israel, while in 5764 (2004-05) chareidi students comprised 24.4 percent of all students.

During the meeting the Prime Minister said that the official elementary school system is funded by the state and the local authorities, whereas the law permits — but does not require — the State, through the Education Minister, to take part in covering the operating costs of recognized schools in any amount it sees fit. Local authorities follow the same practice. Although the Education Minister sets a high, uniform level of state participation in operating costs at recognized-but-unofficial schools, every local authority does as it sees fit. Some fund unofficial schools generously, while others provide only token amounts or no funding at all.

In response to recent "accusations" that Nahari's proposal would benefit students at chareidi institutions, Olmert flatly rejected discriminating against certain children. "The time has come to put an end to the hypocrisy. I've already heard all of the arguments and the hypocrisies and when certain individuals want to, they start private schools. I'm in favor of total equality for each and every child in the education system in Israel. Did any of you really rack his brains and lose sleep when an Arab or chareidi child is forced to study in prefab classrooms (karavanim)? Both of these populations have been discriminated against for years in terms of school construction. Did anyone here cry out against this or was it easier for us to overlook it? Perhaps we, the state, did not provide for their needs. I'm tired of hearing the arguments in favor of discriminating against Arab communities. I'm in favor of an Arab child receiving what he deserves just like a Jewish child."

Noting that Nahari's proposal was consistent with both the Shoshani Committee's recommendations on elementary school funding and the Dovrat Committee's recommendations, Olmert asked the ministers to approve the proposal. The proposal was passed and is currently being prepared by representatives from various ministries.

MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz said that Olmert has always been capable of eloquence, "but this time he used his eloquence to persuade the government ministers of the chareidi public's rights. I very much hope this move is not torpedoed, for we know the Education Minister objects to this entire move for ideological reasons, unfortunately. I very much hope Olmert continues with his move until the law is brought to completion in order to be `Noeh doresh venoeh mekayeim.'"


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.