IDF Combat Soldiers May Begin Academic Degrees

Ruth Na’ama Paz

A new program has enabled 50 combat soldiers to begin academic studies while on regular compulsory service and will grant them 35 academic credits for use in any Israeli university.

Date: 18/04/2010, 9:00 PM     Author: Netanel Rozmarin

A new program to enable combat soldiers to receive degrees in higher education began last week in Givat Haviva. The program was created by the IDF (Zahal) Education and Youth Corps and was opened due to cooperative efforts between the President’s office, the IDF (Zahal) Personnel Directorate, the Defense Ministry and the Open University.

According to the pilot program currently taking place, 50 combat soldiers were chosen from all of the combat units in the IDF (Zahal) depending on their maturity level and other criteria. “The transition from combat soldier to student is not very easy, however it is very interesting and challenging” said Sgt. Assaf Kophilvksy, serving in the 401st Armored Brigade. “This is an important project that has many advantages because we start school with a big push from the IDF (Zahal).”

In the next 6 months the combat soldiers will study engineering or computers in a boarding school close to their respective release date. Lecturers from the Open University will teach the soldiers, who will earn 35 academic credits. After a period of intensive study, the students will be able to continue their degrees at any Israeli university. Meanwhile, in six months, the IDF (Zahal) will review the success of the program with the hopes of promoting President Shimon Peres’ vision whereby every soldier will receive an academic degree.

“The program’s staff has set high goals for us, and we will do everything for combat soldiers to successfully get to the finish line. It will constitute a precedent with regards to studying while in compulsory army service,” said the Commander of the project, Capt. Elad Natan.