DENVER (Aug. 23)
A report on problems affecting the absorption and education of underprivileged Israeli children and immigrant children arriving in Israel, particularly from the USSR, will be presented here tomorrow by Joseph Klarman, member of the Jewish Agency Executive and head of its Youth Aliya Department. An advance copy of Klarman’s remarks, to be delivered at the youth aliya meeting preceding the opening here of the national convention of Hadassah, were made available today to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
According to his report, the youth aliya budget for fiscal 1973-74 amounts to $15 million. Klarman reported that 11,573 boys and girls were educated within the youth aliya framework during the current school year and 17,500 will be educated by youth aliya during the 1973-74 academic year. According to Klarman, 50 percent of the children of Russian immigrants have been educated by youth aliya during the last school year.
Klarman reported that the youth aliya’s new two-year program to absorb 4600 disadvantaged Israeli children has not entirely reached its goal. He also discussed the higher educational expectations of Soviet Jewish immigrants.
REHABILITATION OF DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN
Klarman explained in his report that the rehabilitation of disadvantaged Israeli children, a program started two years ago, was a new concept for youth aliya. In the past the Jewish Agency did not agree to the absorption of children in that category into the expensive educational framework of youth aliya boarding schools.
Admission was limited to children coming to Israel with or without their parents. “I couldn’t accept this policy, wondering why children whose families immigrated 20 to 25 years ago were place in one-room flats in a state of poverty should be deprived of the privileges which are given to those who came after the Six-Day War and are offered so many facilities,” Klarman said in his prepared remarks.
He noted that at the end of the first year of the program, “the kibbutzim did not admit the 1000 children which we had planned for them, out of the 4600 children” and as a result the number of children in the program had to be decreased to 3600.
“We found that the kibbutzim themselves were reluctant to admit our disadvantaged children,” Klarman said. “The reason has remained unclear to us. Perhaps it is because the kibbutzim are afraid of the influence that disadvantaged children may have on their own children.”
YOUTH VILLAGES REPORT ABSORPTION SUCCESSES
On the other hand, Klarman reported, youth villages have managed to absorb 1078 children instead of the originally planned 750, despite a lag in the building of dormitories because of rising construction costs. “This success of ours should be completely attributed to the owners of the youth villages who were ready to turn down the admission of many private children whose maintenance is handsomely covered by their parents so as to be able to absorb our underprivileged children,” Klarman said.
Referring to general education in Israel; Klarman observed that American and Soviet Jewry, perhaps alone among diaspora Jewries, consider university education at the bachelor of arts level “the minimum level of education which practically everybody nowadays has to acquire.”
“This is not the case in Israel” where “academic education is given only to a small talented minority,” he said. “But the children coming from the Soviet Union all expect to receive it and therefore they all strive for admission to a school which will train them for the Israel Certificate of Matriculation. Vocational training which is not accompanied by the matriculation certificate is simply not good enough for them. We must, therefore, offer it to almost each one of these children as we can by no means frustrate them in this respect.”