On the Haredi Educational System

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This explainer will cover the current structure of the Haredi education system, its pedagogical requirements and the budgets it receives from the Government.

The State budget that passed in the Knesset in May (2023) perpetuates a situation in which core curriculum studies -such as English, math, and science, (“secular” subjects) are taught, if at all, in a very limited manner in the Haredi education system, even though these schools budgets increased by an additional 3.5 billion NIS that could and should cover many more hours of instruction.  In addition, governmental oversight and supervision is inadequate, and Haredi students do not take standardized tests (Meitzav) like students in the other various public-school networks. Advocates for the ultra-Orthodox sector argue that the Haredi educational networks are in fact supervised, and that Education Ministry budgets are contingent on instruction in core “secular” subjects.  The central issue focuses on boys’ education, as the majority of girls do study core subjects.

This explainer will cover the current structure of the Haredi education system, its pedagogical requirements and the budgets it receives from the Government.


Budgeting Core Studies 

Are core curriculum subjects taught in the large Haredi school networks?

The Haredi school system is divided into four categories. These include the “exempt” institutions, “recognized but unofficial” institutions, the "Haredi Education Network" that includes both Independent Education and Bnei Yosef schools, and "Haredi public" schools.  42% of Haredi boys in elementary school study in “exempt” institutions. These schools are required to include only 55% of the hours of instruction in core subjects compared with State schools.

“Recognized but unofficial” institutions are schools that operate outside the public school system but are entitled to 75% of the budgets that public schools receive and in turn, are required to teach 75% of the core curriculum taught in public schools.

Schools that belong to the “Haredi Network” (these include both 'the Independent Network' and 'Beni Yosef') are entitled to budgets equivalent to those allocated to public schools and are therefore required to dedicate the same number of hours to core curriculum subjects.

Haredi public schools are budgeted in the same manner as the other public schools (secular and national-religious).

Type of Institution

Percentage of Required Core Studies

Extent of Public Budget

Exempt Institutions



Recognized but Unofficial



The Haredi Networks (The Independent Network & Bnei Yosef)



“State-Haredi” schools




According to data from the Ministry of Education, non-Haredi schools that belong to the “recognized but unofficial” network receive lower budgets, as of 2021, than their ultra-Orthodox counterparts. Within the Arab sector, each student receives around 8,000 NIS; students in schools belonging to anthroposophical or democratic streams are each allocated 11,000 NIS, and students in the Haredi sector receive more than 15,000 NIS each (before the supplementary funds included in the present budget).

Secondary Schools (High Schools)

According to the State Comptroller’s Report for 2020, 84% of boys in Haredi secondary schools (high schools) did not study any core curriculum subjects, and in Haredi elementary schools – 56% of the boys only studied these subjects to a very limited extent.  Additionally, the report reveals a serious shortage of Haredi men qualified to teach core subjects and a lack of up-to-date, and certified, core studies textbooks.

The Education Ministry 2011 Directive defined the scope of core studies required in the Haredi school system, and articulated what qualifies as 100% of core studies in the Haredi system (from which the 75% and the 55% are derived), as less than what is required in the public school system. For example, middle school students in Haredi institutions may study only four weekly hours of English, two hours of geography, two hours of science and four hours of mathematics, in comparison with double that and more, in other public schools.

Despite the fact that, officially, the size of the budget is contingent on the extent of core studies

taught in the classroom, in reality the lack of adequate supervision and oversight creates a situation in which budgets are allocated even when the number of hours dedicated to instruction in these subjects falls below the required standard.

English Studies

English is a relevant case-study. A survey conducted as part of a study by IDI’s Dr. Ariel Finkelstein among Haredi men reveals that only 30% of those who attended ultra-Orthodox schools studied English in their childhood, and that this percentage is lower among younger age groups.  For example, 54% of men over 45 who had completed a Haredi education had studied English, compared to only 18% of those aged 18-24. Only 24% of Haredi parents report that their sons are currently studying English in school. The gap between the requirements and reality is striking.  Only 41% of these boys were enrolled in “exempt” schools where they are not required to study English, and the rest - 59% - were enrolled in schools in which, at least officially, they were required to study English.  



The Nonpartisan Nature of the Haredi Educational Streams 

Are the Haredi educational streams non-partisan?

By law, schools are non-partisan and are recognized by the State. However, in practice they are unequivocally identified with political parties which means that they are inherently partisan. The Independent Network is identified with United Torah Judaism (UTJ) while Bnei Yosef is affiliated with Shas. 

Standardized Tests (MEITZAV) in Core Subjects 

Do Haredi students take standardized tests (Meitzav) for core subjects?

According to the 2020 State Comptroller’s Report, administration of standardized tests in the Haredi school system is almost completely absent. This is true for Haredi girls’ schools as well.

The Meitzav exams are required in public schools in the 5th and 8th grades, in science and technology, Hebrew, native language, mathematics and English. These tests also monitor the pedagogic and social environment among students, teachers, and principals.

There are no standardized tests at all in the Haredi sector. The only exception is the "Beni Yosef" network that has limited exams in part of its schools, but only for the 5th grade. The exams cover Hebrew and Math, but not Science and English. 


Institution Type

Environment Evaluation

5th Grade Achievement Tests

8th Grade Achievement Tests

“Exempt” institutions




“Recognized but unofficial”




The independent network




The Bnei Yosef network


Yes, only Hebrew and math


State-Haredi” schools


Yes, Hebrew, English, Math & Science



Oversight Over Instruction in Core Studies 

Policy research conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (Bart, Spiegel, Malach, 2020) reveals that supervision of Haredi educational networks is very limited, and focuses mostly on licensing, insurance, and security, rather than on pedagogy.

In 2014, when the ultra-Orthodox Division in the Ministry of Education was established, there were nine supervisors, each responsible for 507 schools. Since then, the number of supervisors has increased (as has the number of students), and the Comptroller’s Report identified 84 supervisory positions, including general supervisors, supervisors for specific subjects and supervisors of the professional development of the educational staff. As noted, most supervisors focus mainly on security issues and on management of the teaching staff.

The ratio between supervisors and students is still significantly lower than in the public school system. Within the Haredi education system (in 2019), a supervisor was responsible for 79 schools, while within the public education system, two thirds of the supervisors were responsible for no more than 25 schools each.

The State Comptroller’s Report also found that the Ministry of Education does not provide adequate supervision for “exempt” institutions and that supervision, including the budget, and enforcement in the educational networks, are very limited.

Furthermore, oversight is based on the “cluster method,” giving schools a free hand to transfer hours between subject areas – a practice that is banned in the secular public school system.  For example, a school may cancel many of the hours allotted to English studies and exchange them for hours of Bible study. Similarly, hours allocated to subjects such as history and geography can be exchanged for hours of oral Torah studies, and still be considered as having fulfilled the requirements for core studies. The report was also critical of the excessive flexibility granted to supervisors, some of whom chose not to cut the budget, even when schools failed to fulfill their requirements.

In addition, the Ministry of Education which checks the execution of policies on the allocation of resources in pre-schools and schools, did not inspect the Haredi educational system (until 2018) or conducted few inspections and only in girls’ schools (starting in 2019). This is a result of lack of cooperation by Haredi education institutions, mainly those for boys.


The Teaching Staff

The report pointed out the difficulty of supervising the teaching staff, as 76% of the schools do not provide the Ministry of Education with full details, and teachers are not necessarily trained in the subjects that they are teaching or may not be trained teachers at all. Unlike public schools, they are not required to obtain an academic degree, and in some cases, schools are opposed to hiring teachers with an academic degree, and they do not participate in the in-service training provided by the Ministry of Education.

In some cases, the learning materials provided to students are privately marketed and have not been authorized by the professional agents. In others, students use outdated books that are used over decades.

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