“A core curriculum for haredi institutions is a piece of fiction, that mainly teaches self-deception and pro forma compliance.…We must hope that the Education Committee approves [the new proposed amendment] without allowing erosion of the number of core hours or increasing the budget for institutions that shirk general studies."
Haredi Students Get On Average Only 4 Hours Per Week Of Secular Studies
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A new report has found that students in Israeli haredi schools are only taught a total of four hours per week – less than one hour per day in haredi school’s 6-day school week – of secular studies plus another one hour of homeroom per week and one hour of physical education per week, Israel HaYom reported.
The report by the non-partisan Knesset Research and Information Center was released earlier today.
The report covered the 203 so-called exempt or independent schools that are not supervised by the Ministry of Education. 47,627 students are educated in those schools. Almost all of those schools are haredi.
Exempt schools receive less government funding than nonexempt schools. Even so, exempt schools reportedly received NIS 214.5 million ($59,107,191) in government funding last year – about 55% of their operating budgets.
A new proposed amendment to the Compulsory Education Law will require that this level of funding will will only continue for schools that provide at least 11 hours of secular studies per week – five hours of math and six hours split between Modern Hebrew and English.
(Israel’s core curriculum also mandates history, science and civics be taught; the government, however, would continue to fund schools that do not do so – at least until the High Court of Justice rules that funding is illegal, which is likely to happen.)
A school that does not meet the 11-hour requirement will only get 30% of of its operating budget from the government.
The Knesset Research and Information Center’s report found that secular studies in haredi schools is made up almost exclusively of arithmetic and Hebrew and almost never English, science or civics. It cites a study done by Dr. Udi Spiegel of the the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies showing that when secular subjects are taught, they’re taught almost exclusively in late afternoon – in other words, at a time when students are much less able to focus on any subject, secular or religious.
"The secular studies are viewed as a kind of break from religious studies. There is no orderly plan for secular studies. Only in a few cases do the secular teachers have specific professional knowledge of the subject they are teaching,” Spiegel reportedly wrote in his study.
The Knesset Research and Information Center’s report also shows that in total, only two or three Ministry of Education supervisors oversee all of the 203 exempt educational institutions – one supervisor per each 80 haredi schools.
On the other hand, there is one Ministry of Education supervisor per 25 to 30 schools secular and Zionist Orthodox schools.
Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the Hiddush Association for Freedom of Religion and Equality, said that as it now stands, “a core curriculum for haredi institutions is a piece of fiction, that mainly teaches self-deception and pro forma compliance.…We must hope that the Education Committee approves [the new proposed amendment] without allowing erosion of the number of core hours or increasing the budget for institutions that shirk general studies."