December 17, 2012
Hebrew to be nixed as foreign language in U.K. schools
The British government reportedly is planning to exclude Hebrew from a list of recognized foreign languages in the national education system.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews warned last week that the exclusion of Hebrew could damage Jewish education in the country, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Education Minister Elizabeth Truss announced plans last month to make it compulsory, from September 2014, to teach a foreign language to children aged 7 to 11. Schools would be required to offer at least one of only seven recognized languages, which excludes Hebrew, the newspaper reported.
Many Jewish primary schools, which include Jewish studies alongside the national curriculum, offer Hebrew as the only foreign language. According to the Board of Deputies, the schools would find it impossible to continue teaching Hebrew if compelled to offer another foreign language as well.
Laura Marks, the board's senior vice president, told the Jewish Chronicle that the government proposal could be “extremely detrimental to our community’s identity." Language, including modern and classical Hebrew, is "a vital ingredient to understanding our faith and culture,” she said.
Marks urged the government “to reject the idea of stipulating just a narrow range of languages."