A bitter struggle over the autonomy of Jewish education in the Belgian city of Antwerp led community activists to seek an injunction last Friday against the introduction of a secular core curriculum into haredi (ultra-Orthodox) schools.
Leaders of the city’s Yiddish-speaking haredi minority consider new regulations on home schooling to be a form of religious coercion, while educational authorities have cited higher-than-average poverty rates as the rationale for their reforms.
The parents of 1,269 pupils asked the city’s district court on October 4 to suspend a decree that the government of Belgium’s autonomous Flemish region issued in July, imposing the requirement.
The decree states that home-schooled students need to either pass state exams at the ages of 11 and 15, or be enrolled in public institutions.
Parents also are required to supply the government with detailed curricula.
Earlier this summer, the Flemish government issued decrees that would force both state-funded and private Jewish schools to teach mandatory curricula that include evolutionary biology, human reproduction and other subjects considered taboo.
Written By: Sam Sokol
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