Parents Demand Gov’t Help for Summer Camp Costs

Israeli schoolchildren. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israeli schoolchildren. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A large group of parents are planning major protests in the coming days, demanding that the government provide more funds for summer camp programs in the schools. On Thursday several small protests were held in Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv and other cities. Next week, several mass protests are planned, Maariv reported Friday.

The summer camp program provides study and play opportunities for children from grades one to six at subsidized rates. In many communities, the programs are the only affordable care option for parents of limited means during the summer, protesters at a Tel Aviv were quoted as saying by Maariv.

Last year, the government decided to institute camps for children from kindergarten through third grade in all schools, but the plan has not been enacted yet because of budget issues. Parents at the Tel Aviv protest demanded that the government follow through on the decision. “Many parents are forced to part with as much as NIS 8,000 for the summer months in order to keep their children busy, and people just cannot afford it,” said a spokesperson for the protesters.

On Wednesday the Knesset discussed a bill proposed by Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) and MK Manuel Trachtenberg (Zionist Camp) to provide funding for all the camp programs.

In a statement, the Education Ministry said that it had been unable to provide funding because of an NIS 800 million budget cut that it had been forced to deal with. After adding assistants in all kindergarten classes and adding classes to lower the number of children per class from a maximum of 40 to 35, the Ministry was forced to cancel summer camp programs for older grades. It hoped to receive the funds needed for a full program for next summer, it said.