Justice in Israel

Good News for those in Poverty: Less Barriers to Academic Studies

0 Comments 25 January 2018

The Labor and Social Affairs Committee approved regulatory conditions that enable recipients of income support to study for an academic degree. These regulations may be the start of a policy that can help promote an escape from poverty. The achievement is the result of efforts by Rabbis for Human Rights and MK Meirav Ben-Ari of Kulanu.

Photo: The Labor and Social Affairs Committee, MK Merav Ben Ari of Kulanu

An important social achievement was made on Tuesday January 23rd following a heated debate in the Labor and Social Affairs Committee. The committee’s discussion revolved around the conditions under which a single-parent recipient of income supplement can study for a bachelor’s degree.

Rabbi Idit Lev, representating Rabbis for Human Rights, was present at the hearing and argued that the initial proposal of the Ministries of Finance and Welfare regarding the regulations would not have promoted their goal of allowing academic studies for recipients of income supplement. According to that proposal, the recipients of the benefits would have to reach a maximum of forty combined hours of work and studies each week in order to receive an exemption from going to the welfare office and from referrals to jobs that clash with their studies. In light of our work with those who the policy is targeting, we argued that such hours would actually prevent many of them – parents who care for children – from academic success.

It should be recalled that the law already grants those receiving income supplement the right to pursue academic studies. However, in practice, until now, officials have been given the power to refer the applicants to work that clashes with their studies. Very few actually managed to attend school. In fact, according to the data presented in the discussion, the number was only fifteen individuals. The recent regulations were enacted to make an exemption from this, but conditions for the exemption [i.e. the number of minimum hour for studies and work per week] must in our opinion be formulated so as to enable the practical ability of income supplement recipients to actually study.

After the heated debate, MK Meirav Ben-Ari managed to successfully demand all the factors required for a better policy – that is, less hours and more flexibility.

A year-long order was approved which states the following:

  • In cases where studies, work or studies with work reach thirty hours per week- the recipient of the benefit is exempt from filing at the welfare office  for one year.
  • An academic hour is considered an hour [rather than 45 min].
  • The calculation of hours is to be based on an average of one week per year.
  • A woman who does not reach 30 hours will be offered a job suitable to her school hours.
  • There will be a study by the National Insurance Institute on the impact of the temporary order, and additional leniencies may be considered if these are not sufficient.

 

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