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The Revolution Is Here: Universal Jewish Education

September 15, 2014 – 3:04 pm12 Comments

children of the revolution1By Jeremy Weinstein:

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard championed the ‘Education Revolution’ both as her time as Education Minister and then as the Deputy Prime Minister. However none of her initiatives rivalled the revolution announced by YBR on Monday night.

CAPS, as it is known, is a ground-breaking school fee system that aims to take the pressure of family’s struggling to afford a private Jewish education. With the rising cost of living, life in the greater Caulfield area is now prohibitive for many. As a result YBR have launched a new sliding scale school fee model based on the amount a family earns rather than just being a flat fee per child.

While YBR’s ethos has always revolved around making a Jewish education accessible to all, most of the fee negotiation has taken place behind closed doors and on a case-by-case basis. In addition to reducing the cost of education the CAPS system is also designed to be open and transparent. Any one can go to the website and anonymously enter some basic financial information to get an indication of what the cost school fees will be for 2015. Furthermore, in order to provide certainty to parents who wish to make the switch to YBR the proposed fee will be fixed for 6-years as long as their income doesn’t change.

Another revolutionary aspect of the CAPS system is that the cost of education is limited to each family rather than each child. So, wether there are 3 or 13 children in the school the cost of the education is the same.

There’s no doubt that YBR are taking a gamble on a scheme in an attempt to encourage students back to Jewish education, but what they do have going for them is the latent desire for many parents to introduce their children to the Jewish community. By that I mean one of the great joys of being Jewish is the sense of community. Whichever community you are a part of, there is a sense of shared history and experience, and while many communities don’t see eye-to-eye on religious or political grounds there is still a sense of belonging when moving between these communities. This feeling can’t be taught – and many who have not experienced this or who many have had the opposite experience, may never quite feel the joy the community can exude. This is where a Jewish day school can provide exposure to the warmth and support of the Jewish community and instil a lifelong feeling of connectivity.

That’s not to say that there are other communities children can belong to – sporting clubs, synagogues and charity groups just to name a few – but none are as pervasive as the daily dose children get from the school environment. To this end the YBR CAPS school fee system is the first attempt to disrupt the way we think about Jewish education by taking the first step towards a more sustainable model for school funding.

The Education Revolution is finally here and I encourage all of you at the very least check it out via the website www.ybrcaps.com – the result will not only be more affordable Jewish education but a greater diversification of the YBR community.

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  • Yehuda says:

    There has been a lot of talk over the past few years of the almost prohibitive rising costs of jewish education. Great to see that someone has finally taken the initiative and thought of an innovative solution. Well done YBR for having the courage to jump first – I’m sure in future we will see all schools come through with a similar program.

  • Rachel Sacks-Davis says:

    Fascinating! It will be interesting to see how people respond. Transparency is a great idea. There are lots of potential benefits and I think it’s a great initiative. The potential risks that I can think of are: some people may feel resentment that they are paying more than others, and I suppose this means that everyone will have to show the school proof of their income. I assume that in the past this has only been necessary to get a reduced rate, and that has likely put some people off asking for that. Now everyone will have to do it.
    In response to Yehuda’s comment: honestly, I can’t imagine most of the other Jewish schools following suit, but it would be great if some of them did!

  • Jonny says:

    Congrats to all involved! Will make a big difference to the YBR community!

    I doubt that any of the other schools will follow.

  • Naftoli says:

    The correct link appears to be http://www.ybrcaps.com.au

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Agreed it is a fantastic initiative.
    Rachel, I don’t know all the ins & outs of it but as far as I’m aware it is an optional system. So families who don’t want or need to disclose their income can just continue paying regular school fees.

  • Menachem Shmoy says:

    This will really assist families who to date couldn’t afford a Jewish education for their children and sent them elsewhere.
    Excellent idea!!

  • david segal says:

    who will pay for the free lunch?

  • Joe in Australia says:

    I don’t expect this will cost Yeshivah/Beth Rivka much. You’re only eligible for the CAPS if you have (as I recall) less than $350,000 in assets – excluding the family home, but including superannuation. And it’s calculated as a percentage of the family income, including all sorts of external assistance from relatives and so forth. So it benefits people who were already given discounted fees because they have a lot of kids, low incomes, and few assets.

    I think the really positive things about this are that the calculations are being made public and the school has made a commitment to stand by the results. So now Yeshivah can advertise its reduced fees; people don’t need to be ashamed of asking for them; and they won’t be scared that the discount will be cut off. That’s sure to make people feel better about bringing their kids to YBR.

  • Steven says:

    david segal, have a look how much people on a large wage have to pay, one person can subsidise many others. And YBR does receive funding from the Government.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    It gets a *lot* of funding from the government. The government-audited figures that were published a few years ago indicate that hardly anyone pays full fees.

  • letters in the age says:

    Education is a right not a privilege.

  • R B says:

    All good and nice…. assuming that you have no problem that your kids get Jewish education in the Lubavitcher way. If not, then nothing has changed for you.

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