An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks with his children on a street in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood September 24, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There has been no progress with regard to taking children out of poverty, and protecting them from risk and sexual abuse, Vered Vindman, the executive director of the National Council for the Child, told President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.
A state that proclaims itself as one of social welfare and equality has to first and foremost take care of its children, Vindman told the president, as she presented him with the council’s 26th annual report on the status of children in Israel.
The comprehensive, 676-page document was edited by Tzipi Berman and dedicated to the late Limor Solomon, who for many years was the council’s legal adviser and who contributed greatly to its policies.
Solomon was appointed a judge in Juvenile Court, but was unable to fulfill her duties because of the illness to which she succumbed in April. She was widely considered to be a lighthouse for all those working to protect the rights of the child. Her husband, Chagai Weisblum, and their young daughters Amalia and Ruth were present at the presentation ceremony at the President’s Residence.
Rivlin said that the National Council for the Child was the most important body of its kind in that it cares for the welfare of every youngster regardless of status, creed or ethnic or national background.
Its work is not always sufficiently appreciated by the government, said Rivlin.
“Nothing is more precious than our children,” he said, noting that children comprise 33% of the population.
Each year when he receives the report, he said, he hopes to find a considerable decrease in the statistic on child poverty, but that has not yet happened.
For several years now, a teenager has been in attendance at the presentation ceremony of the council’s reports. That is because the council is interested in hearing from children and believes that the president should hear from them as well.
This time the student was Shelly Slobotsky, an articulate 10th-grader from Beersheba, who said that while children in elementary school are motivated to learn, those in high school are not. They have neither the motivation, the ability, the curiosity, nor the attention span to do well at school, she said.
She attributed this in part to the fact that teachers do not have enough freedom to deviate from the curriculum, and that many teachers are under-qualified and therefore fail to inspire their pupils.
Another reason that Slobotsky gave was that while the world is changing, the education system remains stagnant and offers little incentive to the student to study. There is not enough to pique the student’s curiosity, she said.
Adults set curricula without consulting with students to ask them what would interest them and how they think it should be taught, Slobotsky said