As the academic year draws to a close, a group of girls from a high school in Milan, Italy will accomplish something unusual and opportune—acquire a diploma from the Israel Ministry of Education. The Te’udat Bagrut is the official Israeli matriculation certificate attesting to graduation from high school; it’s also a prerequisite for higher education in Israel. According to Rabbi Igal Hazan, director of administration and development at the Joe Nahmad High School in Milan—a Jewish institution run by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Italy—the impetus for starting the program came, in part, from a desire to spend more time teaching Jewish history and traditions.
To ensure that the students are prepared for the exams, each area of coursework given at the school replicates what is taught in Israeli schools—right down to the textbooks.
As for the exams, they are sent to Milan—home to some 10,000 Jews—and administered the same time students in Israel are taking the tests. They are then packed up and sent to the Israel education ministry for grading.
The Bagrut tests are on par with the New York State Regents’ Exams and ETS Advanced Placement (AP) tests, and scores are reviewed when young adults apply to elite military units and Israeli academic institutions.
The Joe Nahmad High School is an outgrowth of the greater Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch in Italy, which has run an elementary school for some 50 years now. This, however, will be the first time Merkos has a graduating high school class. At present, 25 students—most of whom live in Italy—attend the high school, which is currently accepting applications from girls throughout Europe for next year.
Given the success of the program, preliminary talks are underway between the Israel Ministry of Education to see if there might be interest in having similar programs in schools in Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Read more at Chabad.org.