Bill Could Force Haredi Schools to Teach Math - or Lose Funding

Unclear whether current right-leaning coalition will vote in favor of bill, aiming to ensure core curriculum at ultra-Orthodox schools.

Eyal Warshavsky

A new bill could force ultra-Orthodox schools that enjoy government funding to teach core subjects such as math, sciences, English, civics and others. The bill, sponsored by Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely and Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit, suggests that the government refrain from funding institutions that fail to comply with the core curriculum.

"The aim is to ensure that recognized but unofficial educational institutions in the Haredi sector will be bound to teach the core curriculum," MK Sheetrit told Haaretz on Saturday. "Today, unfortunately, most of Israel's schoolchildren are either Haredi or Arab, which means that most of the next generation is not receiving any kind of education in Zionism, work or service," he added.

Sheetrit could not venture a guess whether the bill would be passed by the current right-leaning coalition, but he voiced hope that his colleague Hotovely would be able to convince her party, including Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, to support the bill.

The Knesset will vote on the bill during the coming week.

The core curriculum is comprised of the subjects and topics every educational institution in Israel is required to teach in order to be recognized by the Education Ministry. The aim of the core curriculum is to provide students with equal footing in integrating in the job market.

In practice, the Education Ministry funds many ultra-Orthodox institutions that don't adhere to the core curriculum, or that adhere to it only partially. In the smaller ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, where high-school age children are schooled, no non-religious subjects are taught at all.