Students eating lunch at school (illustrative).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With a little over a month until the Passover vacation, the Education Ministry announced that only 77% of municipalities have signed up to participate in the “School of the Holidays.”
To date, 199 municipalities have signed up for the program, out of 256, the ministry announced late Tuesday. An additional 38 municipalities have expressed an interest to join the program, though are experiencing difficulties, mainly in finding the manpower.
To date, pupils in the education system have a total of 80 vacation days per year, compared with 12 vacation days for parents.
In January Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced a NIS 400 million plan to shorten school vacation days.
The plan called for some one million pupils in preschool through third grade, including special education to receive 10 added school days per academic year – the majority over the Hanukka and Passover holidays.
Despite this, the ministry published statistics revealing that municipalities, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Safed, Herzliya and Beersheba, have either not completed registration to the program or do not intend to.
An investigation by Israel Hayom
published this week, which contacted 30 municipalities, found that a number of them, including Jerusalem, would not commit to operating the program in all schools as many cited a lack of qualified teaching staff.
In turn, the Education Ministry has said it is assisting municipalities in recruiting the necessary manpower from a pool of students, national service volunteers, teachers, caregivers, training centers and pre-military preparatory programs.
The plan is estimated to cost NIS 40m. per day and the ministry had promised that on the added days schools will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. while preschools will run from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include classes, cultural enrichment, and a full educational staff as well as security.
Parents will have to shoulder a small fraction of the costs according to the level of socioeconomic standing of the municipality. In weaker municipalities, the cost is free to parents, while in clusters five to seven the cost is NIS 20 per additional day and in the strongest municipalities, the cost to parents will stand at NIS 30 per day.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure that the children of Israel will begin to benefit from the framework of the holiday schools, led by Education Minister Bennett, and to spend leisure time in a rich and quality educational framework,” Shmuel Abuav, director- general of the Education Ministry said on Tuesday.
Abuav called the enlistment of municipalities into the program “satisfactory,” though he added that “we want to ensure that an overwhelming majority of authorities will register.”