(JNi.media) Director of the ultra-Orthodox Dept. in the Ministry of Education Meir Shimoni recently revealed some of his office’s plans and objectives in a speech he gave at the Center for the Study of ultra-Orthodox Society, Kikar Hashabbat reported Monday. Shimoni’s statements have arouse a huge storm among heads of Haredi educational institutions and increased their concern regarding an intervention of the Ministry of Education not only in administrative matters but also in matters of curricula and children’s education.
Among other things, Shimoni said that his office is engaged in a “significant and historic groundbreaking,” recalling that “what happened with the ultra-Orthodox sector was very simple,” Shimoni said, “It was very convenient for the state over the past 40-60 years to come to the ultra-Orthodox society and tell them, here’s 5 billion shekel, take the money and do with it what you wish. That’s how things rolled on and on. Various norms were created. They didn’t deal with the core curricula, or the quality of teaching and learning, and everyone did as they saw fit.”
According to Shimoni, the Education Ministry is now determined to improve the ultra-Orthodox educational system. He said there are individuals both inside and outside the ultra-Orthodox society eager to institute these changes. They just need to be connected together.
Saying he is determined to use a carrot and stick approach, “a lot of carrot, only a little stick,” Shimoni spoke about the issue of integrating Haredim in the job market: “If we review the demographics, then by 2040, possibly towards 2050, if the ultra-Orthodox sector stays on its current trajectory, it would constitute about 50% of the Jewish population. That’s the data, give or take, and if we want that this 50% will be integrated into society, employment, the military, the security, all of that, we must take care of the education system yesterday.”
Shimoni insisted that the Education Ministry’s plan is to move at a moderate pace, “not by force but with smarts, with a great deal of caring and sensitivity, but also with determination, never give up the goal.”
Shimoni was appointed by the former Education Minister, Shai Piron, an appointee of Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who had made forcing ultra-Orthodox integration one of his main agenda topics, concentrating on an “equal burden” policy in IDF conscription. The new Education Minister, Naftali Bennett is considered friendlier to the ultra-Orthodox, being a religious Jew himself.