A steering committee has “mapped out the primary obstacles to integration into the higher education system” among Ethiopian Israelis.
Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) says that it has recently approved a $40.4 million (NIS 145m) multiyear plan to “encourage academic excellence and leadership” among students of Ethiopian descent.
The program was borne out of a 2015 government policy decision to promote “the integration of Israel citizens of Ethiopian descent into Israeli society,” says the CHE.
A steering committee, it says, has “mapped out the primary obstacles to integration into the higher education system” among Ethiopian Israelis.
They include pre-academic information and guidance; a low percentage of holders of matriculation certificates that meet the threshold set by the universities; high dropout rates between the first and second year; and, the lack of a variety in the areas of study, says the council.
A goal has been set, it says, to increase the number of students of Ethiopian descent enrolled in undergraduate programs from 1.45 percent to approximately 1.7 percent by 2022, “commensurate with the percentage of people of Ethiopian descent in the general Israeli population.”
It is part of an Israeli government plan that also includes helping haredi Jews and Israeli Arabs.
The program includes funding preparatory courses for psychometric exams, tutoring, funding for dorms or transportation, and the diagnosis of learning disabilities. Mentors are to include senior university staff who would accompany outstanding students from the final year of their bachelor’s degree and “guide them on their academic path in preparation for continuing research studies.”
As Israeli officials say that the country continues to grapple with a brain drain, the phenomena of academics and scientists who leave the Jewish State for what they view as greener pastures abroad, the current effort is also aimed at providing “research and wage budgets for hiring outstanding scientists at institutions of higher education,” says the CHE, “adding that “at the end of the scholarship, the scholarship recipients will be hired by academic institutions on a permanent basis.”