Israel National News has been informed that a program that retrains licensed teachers from the United States who make aliyah for work in the Israeli school system has been canceled, jeopardizing the prospective immigration of possibly hundreds of teachers in the coming years.
According to aliyah aid group Nefesh b'Nefesh, the closing of the “Morim Olim” (Immigrant teachers) program takes away what had been a valuable resource that teachers who wished to immigrate to Israel have used in the past to get themselves acclimated to the country. The closure of the Morim Olim program program, says Yael Katsman of NBN, means that “there is no longer an address within the system for teachers' questions and concerns, and assistance in helping them find jobs.”
The closure of the Morim Olim program program means that 'there is no longer an address within the system for teachers' questions and concerns, and assistance in helping them find jobs.'
The program, initiated several years ago, successfully integrated hundreds of teachers trained in the United States into the Israeli school system. Teachers were trained on how to deal with Israeli students, and received instructions on how to teach their specialty in Hebrew. At the end of the one-year course, candidates emerged with an Israeli teacher's certificate, which allowed them to apply for jobs in the school system.
But recently, administrators and potential participants were informed that the program was being closed down, said sources close to the program who did not wish to be named. “The course was free, which was a great boon to new immigrants,” said one participant in the program. “I have spent months attempting to track down those who decided to cut the program, in order to determine why they were closing it down. But no one is willing to come out and say why, which makes the closure even more frustrating.”
There are alternatives, an individual involved in running the program said, but they aren't easy – or cheap. “The closest alternative is a one-year program offered by several teachers' colleges, but they are rather expensive. Then there are longer certification courses, but those are also inappropriate for these teachers, who not only have licenses, but have also taught in the classroom, some for many years.”
While budgeting is always a good guess as to why government-funded programs like these are cut, Katsman isn't so sure. There is possibly also the issue of competition for jobs with Israeli teachers. “To the best of our knowledge most of these 'morim olim' were only working with part-time salaries, at one-third or at most half-time positions, but we’re not sure it was exclusively a budgetary issue.”
A higher-up in the Education Ministry who spoke anonymously to Israel National News hinted at this as well, saying that “there has been a lot of back and forth here in recent months, and money is definitely not the only reason for the program cut.”
Officials from the Education Ministry refused to comment, referring all questions to a Ministry spokesperson. Requests for comments to the spokesperson were not answered.
Several Ministry meetings on possibly re-instating the program, scheduled after much pressure by teachers and aliyah advocates, have been postponed, with the newest date for the meeting set for this week. While the likelihood of reinstating the program seems dim at this point, Katsman says she is hopeful.
“The ‘Morim Olim’ program gave much encouragement and advice to these immigrant teachers,” she said. “Nefesh B’Nefesh has been in touch with the Director General of the Ministry of Education and other important players within the Ministry, advocating on behalf of the Olim.”