Studying in yeshiva, Jerusalem.
Studying in yeshiva, Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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About 1,000 yeshiva high-school dropouts will be provided technological, math and English courses this year toward a partial matriculation certificate allowing them to pursue further studies in technical colleges.

The finance and education ministries have doubled the number of classes offered by the program, launched last year, from 20 to 40, at a total estimated cost of NIS 40 million.

The classes, held at high schools throughout the country, are for boys only and adapted to ultra-Orthodox requirements, including separation from other classes of the schools where they are located. Most of the students have a hard time navigating the educational system and some have found themselves ostracized by their own society.

According to the Bank of Israel, the rate on employment among working age Haredi men last year was just 45%, while the rate for women was 60%. By comparison, among the rest of the population the labor force participation rate was 77%.

The treasury is financing the opening of 20 new 10th-grade classes, while students who began the program last year continue into the 11th grade. The ministry also has plans to open five ninth-grade classes as a pilot program toward expanding the curriculum.

The studies, totaling 15 matriculation units, don't provide the requirements needed for acceptance into university but will allow graduates admission into post-secondary programs offering technical or practical engineering certificates to pave their way into the workforce.

Some of the courses being offered, besides the core math and English requirements, cover subjects often given limited exposure in the yeshiva framework, include computer science, electronics, mechanical engineering and microchip processing. The program also includes religious studies.