In line with the policies of Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron, his director responsible for Chinuch Atzmai Schools, Meir Shimoni, is responsible to make certain all schools affiliated with the chareidi network are including core subjects in the curriculum in the upcoming school year. The new policies of the ministry will compel the schools to include math, science, English and other subjects in their curriculum.
Schools currently in the system today that are unwilling to comply with the new directive will be compelled to leave, as they will not be accepted by the ministry and they will no longer be eligible for the current level of funding. Officials in the Chinuch Atzmai system explain this will have disastrous results for students will drop from the current 75% funding to a mere 35%. Chinuch Atzmai CEO Rabbi Avraham Lazerson released the facts, explaining he is distressed over the new reality which will impact thousands of talmidim.
In an interview with the weekly BaKehilla, Rav Lazerson explains this is a continuation of the government’s blatant and unwanted interference in the chareidi education system nationwide.
Chinuch Atzmai schools are referred to as “recognized/unofficial” schools that receive state funding. When the individual schools submit their paperwork to renew their status and entitlement to funding, if they are not 100% in compliance with the new directive, they will not be accepted and lose most of their funding. The permits of all Chinuch Atzmai schools expired and every school will have to apply for eligibility once again, and those failing to comply with the new curriculum will be without the majority of the schools’ funding.
Shimoni explains he is simply enforcing a May 2013 cabinet decision. BaKehilla adds there is no such cabinet decision. There is however a decision by the current administration that state funding for schools will be commensurate with compliance with the state mandated curriculum.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldberg, who runs the Lev Simcha Talmid Torah in Ashdod, explains the current situation is “a tragedy”. He explains his talmid torah has 3,000 talmidim, the largest in Israel, and the loss of funding will have catastrophic results. The talmid torah employees over 100 staff members, questioning how he will find the lost millions in funding to keep the school running.
Rabbi Lazerson stressed that Gedolei Yisrael Shlita have insisted that Chinuch Atzmai remains independent of the state curriculum at any and all cost. He points out that in the past, even the most anti-religious education ministers never attempted to change the system’s curriculum, emphasizing the gezeiros of today are unprecedented.
Many if not most Chinuch Atzmai schools will not be impacted since the girls schools comply with the curriculum but some thirty schools will have to decide how they will act prior to the new school year getting underway. Rabbi Lazerson adds that for him it is clear, and schools clinging to the instructions of Gedolei Yisrael Shlita will not have an option. They will have to refuse to comply with the ministry directive and bear the consequences. He adds that it is likely that hundreds of teachers will have to be dismissed from the system.
In the large chassidic courts there is no question, for they will not even consider complying with the ministry’s directive. They will have to find the funding but they will never compromise and permit state intervention in the chinuch of their children.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)