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Free Education Bill

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A bill that would provide a free education in Israel for Jewish youths from the diaspora, was presented in the Knesset today. Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party introduced the measure as a private member’s bill only a day after Education Minister Aharon Yadlin announced that tuition fees for Israeli students would be increased from IL 1800 to IL 3000 next year. The Hammer bill is expected to encounter strong opposition from Israeli students, many of whom must struggle to meet their present tuition costs.

According to Hammer, any Jewish youth resident abroad between the ages of 14-25 would be provided with a free education at Israeli high schools, yeshivas and universities. Applicants, however, would have to satisfy the authorities that they are Jews according to halachic criteria as interpreted by Orthodox rabbis. Hammer contended that the sharp decrease in immigration made his measure especially important because it would create a bond between Israel and diaspora youth who might eventually emigrate to Israel. He said that since the students would be required to pay their own fare, Israel would benefit from the foreign currency. Presumably they would be required to travel by Israeli carrier.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency Assembly, in progress here, was informed today that the Israel Education Fund has built about 500 educational institutions in 90 towns and villages in Israel. The report was made by Philip Zinman, chairman of the Fund. Eliezer Shmueli, deputy director of the Ministry of Education said there was a growing interest in education among the poorer strata of society and warned that cuts in his ministry’s budget could lead to difficulties, especially in post-elementary education.

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