Elchanan Glatt

Religious students in Israel are less proficient in English than their Secular peers

English week at Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Neria
A recently released study of the educational systems in Israel revealed that religious-Zionist high school graduates in Israel were less prepared for university-level English than their secular peers.

The study, conducted by Ariel Finkelstein for the 'Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah' religious-Zionist movement, was based on a sampling of psychometric exams for college entrance from the years 2000 to 2012. The findings were conclusive: religious students consistently scored 11 and 15 points below secular students in English proficiency, while on par or better than their secular peers in every other subject.

YBA Educational Network
Director General Elchanan Glatt
"To some extent this is understandable, given the extra hours and emphasis on Jewish Studies in religious schools that doesn't exist in secular schools," said Elchanan Glatt, the Director General of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva Educational Network in Israel, "still, these findings are worrisome for religious Zionist educators. Perhaps in the past some elements in the religious Zionist public saw the study of foreign languages as unimportant. But that worldview is no longer relevant. Today it is clear to everyone that speaking a foreign language fluently, especially English, is an essential part of a high-quality education."

Glatt pointed to two graduates of YBA high schools as personal examples: Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipy Hotovely and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. "Today's generation sees YBA graduates in the Knesset, and eloquently presenting Israel's case in English in the international media, and they understand the importance of English. They know that English is the international language in computer sciences, medicine, physics and every other scientific field, including the social sciences such as sociology or history."

Glatt stressed that the YBA educational network was taking the findings seriously and working to close the gaps in English proficiency. YBA created a new position for a network-wide English Instruction Supervisor to advise schools on how they can improve. In-service training programs are being planned for English teachers, and measurable benchmark goals are being set for each school. "The process should take two years to fully implement before we will be able to see quantifiable results," he said. "The improvement won't come at the expense of our Jewish Studies program. We have enough hours for English lessons, we just have to invest in making those hours as effective and productive as possible."

YBA dedicates 5 new school buildings in Yehuda and Shomron - Israel's Heartland

Elchanan Glatt addressing crowd at
YBA Ma'arav Shomron
The Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network is not willing to even think about a building freeze in Judea and Samaria. In fact, the YBA schools in Yehuda and Shomron are undergoing a construction boom like YBA hasn't known for many years.

Last week, over 3,000 people joined YBA in Elkana to dedicate a new campus for the YBA Ma'arav Shomron boy's yeshiva high school.  The event was attended by the mayor of Elkana, Asaf Mintzer, and featured a love performance by singer Avraham Fried.
This week, the opening week of the  5776 school year, featured many other dedication ceremonies:


The new campus of YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat was dedicated on Sunday, with videotaped greetings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky. On hand were the mayor of Efrat, Oded Ravivi, and the General Director of the YBA Educational Network, Elchanan Glatt, who couldn't contain his excitement as he spoke in front of the thousands of well wishers in attendance.
At the same time, in the presence of the Minister Uri Ariel and YBA officials, a new dormitory facility was being dedicated at the UBA Shirat Hayam Ulpana High School of the Arts for girls in Neve Tzuf.
Meanwhile, the YBA Sussya Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies was not satisfied with dedicating a new dormitory last week, so it broke ground immediately afterward for the construction of an additional dormitory building there.
Finally, later in the week YBA Mateh Binyamin in Beit El also dedicated a new dormitory building for its many students in the residential track.
Elchanan Glatt: "Yeshivot Bnei Akiva has taken off on a period of unprecedented growth, expansion and excellence. We are proud of our educational path, and proud to be part of the continuing settlement movement throughout the entire Land of Israel."
Yossi Dagan, the mayor of the Shomron Regional Council welcomed the building boom and said: "Naturally, the communal and spiritual atmosphere in the Shomron is conducive for educating students toward Jewish values and connection to the Land of Israel. We congratulate YBA on this building boom, and wish all the schools much success in training our children toward excellence and Jewish values."

There are 74 educational institutions in the YBA network in Israel, including 15 in Yehuda and Shomron ensuring high quality education in Israel's heartland.

CLICK HERE to view an interactive map of YBA schools in Israel.

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva: Training Israel's Future.

15 YBA schools included among the top schools in Israel

The Ministry of Education released last week its list of top ranking high schools in Israel. This is the third time that the ministry has used a ranking system featuring a variety of parameters to determine which schools are the leading "value-laden" schools in the country, rather than basing school ranking solely the percent of students matriculating for admittance to institutions of higher education. According to the ministry's ranking system, 15 of the top 261 high schools (6%) belong to the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network in Israel.

YBA Director General,
Elchanan Glatt
 Elchanan Glatt, Director General of YBA, said in response to the publication of the new ranking, "We are proud of our faculty members, who invest in each and every student. These rankings show that education toward Torah values and excellence go hand in hand. We will continue in this path of value-laden education, because we are convinced that it is the right way."

The teachers in the top 261 schools were rewarded with salary bonuses raging from $750 to $2,000 based on their school's relative position on the list. 
 
The relative weighting of the various measures were adjusted this year, after critics of the new ranking system last year claimed that the weighting favored schools in the religious Zionist sector. Even after the adjustments, however, about 40% of the top 261 schools this year were from religious Zionist educational networks.


The ranking system measures applied to over a thousand high schools in Israel included:

  • individual instruction plans according to each student's abilities and disabilities
  • consistency of ongoing faculty involvement in the implementation of instruction plans
  • level of faculty in-service training for ongoing professional advancement
  • inclusion of special needs students in school framework and extent of mainstreaming
  • faculty interventions to reduce student drop-out rate
  • percentage of graduates serving in IDF and National Service
  • involvement of students in voluntary community service projects (Tikun Olam)
  • percentage of graduates achieving full matriculation certificates and average scores
  • level of studies offered in Humanities, Mathematics and the exact Sciences
  • maintaining a matriculation examination process free of irregularities
  • rate of improvement in all parameters over previous year's scores
The YBA (yeshiva) and UBA (ulpana) high schools making the top schools list are:
  1. YBA Kinor David, Ateret .........................(joined YBA in 2010; 120 students)
  2. YBA Beit Shmuel, Hadera ........................(established in 1962; 210 students)
  3. YBA Pirchei Aharon, Kiryat Shmuel .......(established in 1961; 317 students)
  4. YBA Lapid Torat Nachum, Modiin .........(established in 1998; 823 students)
  5. YBA Ra'anana, Ra'anana ..........................(established in 1960; 308 students)
  6. YBA Sussya, Sussya ..................................(established in 1998; 158 students)
  7. YBA Aderet, Bat Yam ...............................(established in 1970; 274 students)
  8. UBA Neot Avraham, Arad ........................(established in 1968; 163 students)
  9. UBA Orot Modiin, Modiin ........................(established in 1998; 713 students)
  10. UBA Segula, Kiryat Motzkin ......................(established in 1965; 529 students)
  11. UBA Neve Ruchama, Jerusalem ................(joined YBA in 2008; 288 students)
  12. UBA Or Akiva, Or Akiva ...........................(established in 2000, 111 students)
  13. UBA Reut, Petach Tikvah ...........................(joined YBA in 1984, 353 students)
  14. UBA Neria, Neria ........................................(established in 2004; 279 students)
  15. UBA Tzfira, Zafaria ....................................(established in 1967; 626 students)
  16. UBA Ramat Karniel, Kfar Pines ................(established in 1960; 458 students)