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Half of new immigrants skip Hebrew studies due to financial hardship

The head of the Knesset's Aliyah and Integration Committee has called for a reform to Israel's Hebrew learning system for new immigrants after a survey revealed that most are forced to either skip studies or combine them with a part-time job to make ends meet.

"It is clear that the olim must work during their studies, which is why the time has come to update the framework for the 21st century by combining in-class and online learning with digital means, with a minimum of face-to-face lessons," Oded Forer said.

The survey, which included 375 participants, showed that almost half (43%) chose not to attend Hebrew-learning school – known as ulpan – at all in order to begin working straight away. A third (31.7%) said they planned to find a job soon due to financial difficulties and only 28.8% said they only planned to join the workforce after finishing their Hebrew-language studies.

Many stressed they preferred online studies to offline education (through a conferencing platform or an app) or a combination of the two. The immigrants moved to Israel between March and October 2022, with most (90%) having arrived from Russia, and some from Ukraine (8%) and other countries (2%).

Another challenge, as previously reported by Israel Hayom, is the dire shortage of teachers that has led to a six-month waiting list of 3,600 olim.

And yet, despite the difficulties, when asked whether they planned to stay in Israel long-term, 48% of new immigrants answered "yes" and 44.8% said it depended on how they integrated into Israeli society.

 Efrat Forsher