Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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18 Elul 5768 - September 18, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Education Ministry Shortens Trips to Poland by Two Days

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

In a move intended to lower the cost of trips for 11th grade students to the concentration camps in Poland the Education Ministry decided to shorten the trips by 2-3 days and to increase the financial-assistance budget from NIS 1 million to NIS 5 million based on recommendations by a special committee of inquiry.

In place of the two days curtailed, the students will attend a seminar at one of the Holocaust education institutions in Israel, which will be mandatory for all students, including those who do not take part in the trip abroad. The ministry also expects a tender scheduled to be issued soon to lower the cost of the trip from NIS 6,500 to NIS 5,000.

In response to reports on the anticipated changes Yedid, a parents' organization in Ashkelon waging a campaign to reduce the price of the trip, called a reduction of NIS 1,000-1,500 "ridiculous," saying it would not help the many students who want to travel to Poland but whose parents cannot afford a price tag that may be the equivalent of a month's salary. "The Education Ministry's conduct regarding the issue of trips to Poland is an outrage, and the State Comptroller and the [Knesset] State Control Committee have already been asked to look into the matter, especially regarding the amount of grants and assistants available to students," said a Yedid representative. "There are organizations capable of arranging the delegations to Poland at much lower prices, but the Education Ministry insists on making agreements through the most expensive organizations."

The National Parents' Association has called for a boycott of the trips following the price increase, saying although it attaches great importance to connecting students to the history of the Jewish people, the association will not allow the trips to become excursions for the rich alone. Fewer than 10% of students are able to take part in the annual delegations to Poland. Former Education Minister MK Yitzchak Levy said this is a PR stunt that does not offer any real solution for students from low-income homes who want to join the trips. Levy says the trips to Poland are very valuable since they make an indelible impression on every student who takes part.

Since 1988 every year thousands of 11th graders have visited the concentration camps and the ghettos where the Nazis slaughtered six million Jews. Unfortunately the trips are associated with problematic behavior since students often perceive it as a fun trip, which can lead to rowdy behavior and even damage to the hostels where they stay. Also, kosher food is not provided and accommodations are not made for students who request it.


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