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Some 279 Israeli Defense Forces officers will be speaking to high-school teachers in a program to increase army service that Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar calls one of his "central aims." Sa'ar presented his ideas to the Knesset Education Committee yesterday, and the new program was attacked by some education professionals.

The plan is to have the army officers rally teachers in encouraging their students not to avoid conscription and to join combat units.

Sa'ar also plans to publish the conscription rates in the IDF of individual schools and to hold a national conference on the subject of conscription and the role of schools with the participation of high-school principals and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

Sa'ar's new program drew reaction. "This shows there are no limits," said Hagit Gur-Ziv, an academic lecturer at the Seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College in Tel Aviv.

Diana Dolev, of the organization New Profile said that "there is an element of fascism introducing people in uniform into the schools and the teacher's room."

At the Knesset Education Committee meeting Sa'ar presented the main points of his policy. "Increasing the numbers of those being drafted by the IDF among the youth is one of my central aims. We are applying this program broadly to encourage conscription into the IDF," the minister said.

One of the key components of the program, which was prepared in coordination with the Defense Ministry, is to have a group of 279 officers visit with teachers in schools so "school activities would encourage conscription into IDF combat units," according to a statement.

Some 600 high-school principals have been invited to participate in a Jerusalem conference December 1 on ways to encourage youth to join combat units. Ashkenazi and Sa'ar will be at the meet. Its organizer, Yossi Levy, who heads the ministry's Society and Youth Administration, said the ministry expects the teachers will contribute to promoting conscription. "It is a goal that was set by the education minister himself, and this obligates the principals more than previous programs," Levy said.

The publication of conscription rates from individual schools will begin, experimentally, in Haifa and Petah Tikva.

Gur-Ziv said publishing draft rates according to schools "creates a distorted picture ... without even mentioning the militaristic assumption behind it - it assumes that a school needs to educate toward the draft and combat service. A proper education system would, at least, raise these issues for discussion."