The Government announced it will subsidize up to 70% of the cost of youth trips to Poland. And the remaining 30%? YEDID and our Ashkelon Citizens Organizing for Change initiated the campaign and now call upon the Minister of Education to adopt a plan to allow students to work in exchange for the rest of the cost of the trip.
YEDID's Ashkelon Citizens Organizing for Change group has been working since 2007 to end the financial discrimination attached to the Poland trips. In a recent letter thanking Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, and his staff for the government subsidy of the Poland trips for low-income families, the group added the following:
"Ministry support, as great and welcome as it is, is an insufficient solution for the many students whose families have to pay the remaining fee, which ranges from 30% to 60% of the cost of the trip. We ask once again that you adopt and develop the program we suggested months ago, which asks the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Labor and the Employment Agency to set up a special employment system for students who want to join the Poland trips and who are willing to work during the summer to finance some of the costs."
YEDID Deputy Director Ran Melamed wrote in the letter that "we believe we are still obligated to provide a solution for students who have to pay between 30% and 60% of the trip cost. The best solution is to adopt the plan of preferred employment for youth that we have presented in the past, and which has received the support of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Labor."
Following months of discussions with potential employers and the Employment Agency, a model was developed in cooperation with the Ministries of Education, Welfare and Industry to locate youth who need to work in order to cover the cost of the trip, as well as potential employers for the summer months.
According to the model, students will work during the first month of the summer vacation between the tenth and eleventh grades in a preferred employment program as defined by the Ministries of Education and Industry. The work can be in agriculture, care-giving, or sales, and the students will receive minimum wage. Each student successfully completing this month of work will receive a grant from the Ministry of Education up to the maximum cost of the trip, and including spending money.
The model prepared by the Citizens Organizing for Change group also proposes that if an entire class wants to join the preferred employment program to help their fellow students, the other students will receive a grant of 25% of the cost of the trip as an incentive. The funds will be deposited into a special class fund for the class to spend on social activities during the year.
The group proposes that the Ministry of Industry supervise implementation of the preferred work program to ensure that the students' rights as workers are not violated and that students with physical disabilities are placed in appropriate work situations to be defined by the appropriate government ministries.
YEDID and members of the Citizens Organizing for Change group also propose that the Minister of Education work directly with the travel agents who organize the trips to avoid having parents pay the upfront costs until the government subsidies are received, as is the current procedure. The letter concluded with the following request to the Minister of Education: "We call upon you to set up a system in which government support is sent directly to the travel agents, thus eliminating economic hardship for the families."
For more information call Ran Melamed at 0545-902096