By Jeremy Sharon (Jerusalem Post) |

The Council of Higher Education (CHE) announced that it would be investing NIS 100 million to implement a series of measures designed to increase the participation in higher education of students from the Ethiopian community.

The number of students from the Ethiopian sector in higher learning is relatively low compared to the size of the population. Such students comprise 1.1 percent of all Israeli students in higher education, while the size of the Ethiopian community is 1.7% of the total population.

According to the CHE, a professional working group established by the organization has in recent days been formulating a comprehensive program to highlight the obstacles faced by Ethiopian students and to establish targets for the next five years.

One of the major obstacles to higher education from the Ethiopian sector is the low number of high school pupils who obtain a high school diploma with an adequate score to qualify for university entrance requirements.

In addition, language problems both in English and in Hebrew at an academic level present another road block, while a lack of knowledge about academic options is another issue, as well as the lack of financial support from parents due to the relatively low socio-economic status of the community.

The money allocated for the program will help fund efforts to make Ethiopian candidates for university or college courses more aware of their options through an existing initiative targeting students in the country’s social and geographic periphery.

Stipends from the Students Administration, a part of the Interior Ministry, will be made available to all Ethiopian students, while additional classes for higher education students and personal tutors will also be provided for those requiring such assistance.

The CHE said the program will be finalized within the next three months as part of the overall five-year plan for the higher education system which is being drawn up by the council in cooperation with the Treasury.

Professor Yafah Zilbershatz, the chair of CHE’s planning and funding committee, said that integrating students from the Ethiopian community in higher education is a central goal to accomplish in the next five years.

“Higher education, apart from being a place to acquire knowledge, is the place where gaps can be reduced and which assists in integrating different population groups into the employment and social circles of the Israeli economy,” said Zilbershatz.

According to the CHE, in the 2014/15 academic year, some 2,500 pupils from the Ethiopian sector took the high school diploma exams, with 56% obtaining their diploma, compared to 75% in the general population.

Only 31% of pupils in the Ethiopian community obtained scores which met entry requirements for university, compared to 63% of pupils from the general population.

Gilad Erditi, the chairman of the Israel Student Union, said following the announcement that the CHE’s new program was “an important and significant step which we are happy to be a part of.”

Source: Jerusalem Post
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