The Ministry of Education announced last week that the percentage of high school graduates who are eligible for a Matriculation Certificate (bagrut) has risen by 2.2%, to 48.3%. Rav David Samson, Head of Yerushalayim Torah Academy (YTA), a Yeshiva High School for English speaking boys in Jerusalem, is not overly impressed.
"I wish to congratulate the Ministry of Education and the students for the increase in bagrut eligibility," he said. "However, one must look at things in proportion. In reality there are [thousands of] students who not only fail to get bagrut, but do not even get educated in the educational system."
"There are thousands of pupils who study but do not receive value-oriented education in the schools, and there are thousands of pupils - including in the national-religious sector - who do not go to school at all. We must think about all of the children, and understand that educational systems are not just for grades and numbers but that we are dealing with human beings. Only then will we receive real education."
Rav Samson noted that a report by youth-oriented NGO Elem determined that the number of drug users among youth has jumped by 18% in one year, and that their ages are lower. "The statistic is very worrying," he admitted. "Without a doubt, this is the result of despair from the life systems and an alternative to life itself. If there is a rise in drug use in the entire public, and inside the national religious public as well, that means that there is a decline in educational values that our youth identifies with. Our youth is looking for values and we need to translate our values into a language they will understand."
On the other hand, religious high schools do have a great deal to be proud of, considering that the national religious population is aproximately 20% of the general population. A list of schools with the highest percentage of students achieving full matriculation was published in Ynet a month ago, lauding the city of Tel Aviv where five schools were said to be among the top 20 on the list, with scarcely a religious school. It turned out that the criteria for the list were incomplete and actually religious schools all over the country lead the top 20, with 14 religious schools achieving between 100% and 93.94% full matriculation. Ulpenat Neve Chana (Ohr Torah Schools) in Alon Shvut, Ulpena Torah-Science in Ashdod, Amit's Nachshon Yeshiva each achieved 100% eligibility. Those close behind included Ulpenat Bahran in Gedera, Ironi Aleph in Tel Aviv, Ulpenat Tel Aviv, three of the Tzvia (Merkaz HaRav) Ulpenas, Kfar Batya's High School of Science, Amit Beer Sheva, Ulpenat Chorev of Jerualem and more.
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