At a Knesset Education Committee meeting Monday, MK Yaacov Margi insisted a solution for disadvantaged students who can’t afford to go on the trip be found; MK Itzik Shmuli: We cannot acquiesce to the fact that these trips are only for the rich.calls for the trips to be suspended until a solution that allows disadvantaged pupils to also go

The Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, MK Yaakov Margi (Shas), demanded Monday at a committee meeting that all March of the Living trips to Poland be suspended until a budget solution for disadvantaged students who are forced to forgo the trip was found.

“We cannot continue the status quo. The Committee is strongly opposed to the fact that the Ministry of Education did not handle the issue,” said MK Margi. “This is a very important issue, but because of the costs it scars the students. We cannot continue and support this industry of trips to Poland,” he added.

March of Life in Poland on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Photo: EPA)
March of Life in Poland on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Photo: EPA)


MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) who participated in the Committee’s discussion of the issue noted that the protocols show that about 30,000 students out of about 120,000 students a year go to Poland. “We cannot acquiesce to the fact that these trips are only for the rich. The thought that a child who was denied the chance to go only because he has no money gives me no rest.”

The meeting was attended by MKs and representatives of teachers’ unions, student representatives and the Ministry of Education. Although the Ministry of Education allocates scholarships of 50 million shekels to students, students told the officials that the procedure embarrasses them in front of their friends. MK Shmuli added that scholarship recipients feel that they are being done a favor. “If they think it is important, they must include the trips in the curriculum with all the financial implications that entails,” he argued.

Also attending the discussion was Ohed Friedman, an eleventh grader from Yehud who said that “the trip to Poland cost 7,000 shekels, including preparations. I could go afford to go on the trip, but as a Scout I leaned the value of solidarity. I will not take care of myself and leave my friends who are less well-off remain at home. Scholarships are degrading and today there is no discretion. When a child asks for a scholarship everyone in the school knows about it and it is degrading.”

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu) argued that we should examine the students’ willingness and perhaps reconsider the justification for the trip during the school year in high schools. “My feeling is that over time a real investigation into what students go through while on a trip to Poland has not been carried out,” she said. “I’m not sure about the trips’ effect. We should ask ourselves if this is the only way to teach the Holocaust. Maybe we should find an alternative, perhaps even in a military framework.”