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Israel to allocate $5.8 million to boost Hebrew learning for new immigrants

A dire shortage of teachers has led to a six-month waiting list for immigrants looking to be accepted to schools to begin learning Hebrew.

New immigrants from North America arrive on a Nefesh B'Nefesh "Aliyah Flight, at Ben-Gurion Airport, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo by Flash90.
New immigrants from North America arrive on a Nefesh B'Nefesh "Aliyah Flight, at Ben-Gurion Airport, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo by Flash90.

Israel’s Aliyah and Integration Ministry will allocate 20 million shekels ($5.8 million) as part of an emergency budget to boost Hebrew learning for new immigrants.

The funds will be allocated to private language-learning schools, which are not normally subsidized by the state, to help tackle the dire shortage of Hebrew teachers.

A recent report by the Knesset Research and Information Center, which was submitted to the Education, Culture and Sports Committee, showed that Israel is short 88 educators, which has led to a six-month waiting list for 3,600 new immigrants looking to be accepted to schools—known as ulpans—to begin learning Hebrew.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer lauded the move, saying that subsidizing private Hebrew-learning schools provides an immediate solution.

Of the 24,000 new immigrants who arrived in Israel in 2022 and studied in ulpan, 6,000 did so in private institutions, according to the report.

“I am very glad that we have found a budgetary solution to finance the vouchers for thousands of new immigrants who moved to Israel last year … These will help thousands of olim [immigrants] learn Hebrew and more easily integrate into the employment market in Israel.”

Sofer has also instructed the Education, Culture and Sports Committee to find a permanent solution to the crisis within a month and increase the ulpan teachers’ salaries.

Altogether, Israel welcomed 75,000 new immigrants last year—especially from Ukraine and Russia—with a similar number expected this year.

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