Decline in Number of Students Visiting Poland

This year saw a decline in the number of students taking school-sponsored trips to Poland, according to statistics compiled by the Education Ministry. Approximately 16,850 students took the trip this year, compared to 17,700 last year.

The decline in the number of students has been attributed to a number of factors, including last year's high school teachers strike, late publication of tenders for the trip by the Education Ministry, and the cost. According to data provided by the Knesset research center last year, almost 75 percent of schools sending groups to Poland have economically better-off student bodies.

The cost per student runs between $1,200 for groups directly handled by the Education Ministry, and $1,400 for "independent" school-sponsored trips.

Two weeks ago, MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) proposed a bill that the cost to a student for a trip to Poland not exceed 25 percent of the average monthly wage. A group of parents from Ashkelon has been involved in supporting this legislation. The bill would have the Knesset approve the maximum cost of the trips, as it approves other school fees.

Most schools prefer independent school-sponsored trips, despite the greater cost, because they allow the school more freedom to determine route and content.

Ministry officials said the impact of the economic crisis on the Poland trips will be clear in a few more months, but that it did not appear to have had an effect. They said the declining dollar actually made the trips relatively less expensive in shekels.