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Gov’t expands options for elementary school registration
By DANIELLE ZIRI
01/20/2013
Project enables parents and students in the participating cities to select their school according to pedagogical considerations.
 
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar briefed ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday on the implementation of a ministry initiative that expands school registration zones, allowing parents to choose from a larger selection of establishments when enrolling their children for the next school year.

As pupils in Israel are, by law, assigned to a school according to the area where they reside, parents cannot decide which school their children attend. Geographical location is the decisive factor.

The new project, which started as registrations for the 2013-2014 school year began last week, enables parents and students in the participating cities to select their school according to pedagogical considerations, such as the school’s specializations, or its philosophy, while remaining limited to their municipality. This will, however, only be applicable to pupils entering first grade.

The cabinet had authorized a first step to this approach in 2010, when the ministry conducted an experimental program with this approach involving 19 schools in four different cities.

This year, some 150 schools are expected to take part in the expansion in 15 municipalities across the country, namely Rishon Lezion, Ra’anana, Yavne, Ramat Gan, Petah Tikva, Bat Yam, Netanya, Mevaseret Zion, Usifiya, Kiryat Tivon, Acre, Afula, Kiryat Shmona, Beit She’an and Arad.

The schools joining the initiative are mostly unique institutions with different specializations such as music, arts or sciences.

Green schools that emphasize environmental teachings will also be included.

Education Ministry statistics showed that during the experimental program in 2010, one in five students to whom the option was offered chose to attend a different school than the one they would normally have been required to attend in their designated area.

The data also found that over 90 percent of children who requested a specialized school were granted their first choice.

Sa’ar said in a statement that the move “strengthens the public education system” as it will “allow parents and students to make informed choices about educational institutions while maintaining a clear principle of equal opportunity.”

“Expanding the choices will strengthen excellence and enhance specialization in education, which will help meet the diverse needs of students in the public school system,” he added.
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