School children in class.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset Science and Technology Committee recommended on Wednesday to establish a body to coordinate scientific-technological education.
The recommendation, made by MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu), is meant to boost technological studies at all stages of learning. According to MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union), technological education benefits students, the economy, and also minimizes social gaps.
As the former chair of the Council for Higher Education, Trajtenberg said, “At every opportunity I ask myself what will be the fate of students who finish high school but don’t continue into higher education. The State of Israel abandons them to their fate.”
Trajtenberg said that while institutions of higher education are doing all they can to encourage and teach technological studies, those who do not attain higher education should still have access to this important opportunity.
“This committee has to call on the state not to add a course here and there, but to change the attitude [towards technological education] and put together a national plan,” he said.
MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), chairman of the committee, said that he sees importance in starting technological education as early as possible.
“We need to start scientific- technological education from an early age, perhaps even from preschool, let alone in elementary school. Acquiring the preliminary education at an early age will contribute to the students’ desire to focus on the subject,” said Maklev.
Dr. Ofer Rimon, director of the Science and Technology Administration at the Education Ministry, said that currently, some 140,000 high school students from grades 10 to 14 take classes in 20 different technological fields such as robotics, engineering, and more, all fields in which they can matriculate.
Eliav Batito, head of the National Student Council, pointed to the large gaps between the periphery and the Center. “The real challenge for us is to utilize the smart phones that every student has.
We need to know how to use this technology and channel it into our studies.”
Shasha-Biton concluded the meeting saying, “Technological education is not designed for dropouts or disadvantaged populations. It is intended for all students for whom technology is a strength.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett was supposed to address the committee meeting but sent his apologies at the last minute. Bennett, who has spoken very strongly in favor of bolstering mathematics and science in schools, announced later on Wednesday that the Committee of Heads of Universities decided to support his initiative to strengthen the study of mathematics in high school.
According to the decision, students who take the maximum five units of mathematics in the matriculation exam will receive a minimum of 30 bonus points toward their final grade. Students must take at least three units but can do up to five.
“The State of Israel faces a serious threat. We went from 13,000 students [taking] five units in mathematics to 8,500.
I am determined to reverse this trend. Giving 30 bonus points will motivate thousands of students to study five units in mathematics,” said Bennett. “It’s important for us that students will understand that mathematics is the basis for progress, technology, for thinking, and for personal and national success.”