JERUSALEM (Dec. 6)
The National Council of Jewish Women, a service organization on the American scene, has focused attention on the cultural and economic gap that exists in Israel’s society. At its recent “Summit Conference” attended by 300 delegates from the US it committed $1 million over a ten year period to fund the Center for Research in Education of the Disadvantaged at the Hebrew University’s School of Education. The Center was initially set up by the NCJW in 1968 but the commitment to the university at that time was for only three years.
Currently being researched there are 10-15 projects dealing with different facets of education for the 60 percent of Israel’s school population which comes from culturally disadvantaged backgrounds. The projects include examination of teachers’ behavior in the classroom and the preparation by mothers of their children for kindergarten. Several future projects will concentrate on areas outside the school system.
Dr. Haim Adler, director of the Council funded center told the American delegates of the urgent need to close the gap between new immigrant families from Asian and African countries and those from the West. He noted that only 35 percent of those gaining matriculation belong to the Oriental community. It is not surprising, he said, that students from those backgrounds form only 15 percent of all students at Israeli institutions of higher learning. From this it follows that very few of Eastern origin can hold positions in policy-making or national leadership as it also follows that income gaps between the two sections of the population remain too wide, Dr. Adler said.
He stressed that if Israel is to proceed with scientific research on an advanced level, the entire population must be capable of playing an active part in developing such studies and implementing their results with sophisticated techniques. Cultural disadvantage in one generation breeds a continuing pattern of cultural lag, Dr. Adler said. He observed that where children of Oriental background had parents who received a high school education, they did as well as children of Western origin. But unfortunately, the number of such cases is still far too small, he said.