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2.1m. pupils – 150,000 of them first-graders – to kick off school year Monday
By LIDAR GRAVE-LAZI
08/31/2014
Thousands of educators will devote the first two weeks of studies to addressing the war that dominated the summer vacation.
 
Youngsters across the country, from preschool through high school, are set to begin classes Monday, kicking off the 5774/75 academic year.

A total of 2,105,394 pupils are starting their studies, including 149,705 entering the first grade and 112,750 high school seniors.

“Israeli students, I congratulate you on the occasion of your return to school, and wish each and every one of you a successful and challenging year,” Education Minister Shai Piron said on Saturday evening.

Piron welcomed students and teachers alike, saying the year will offer “something different for each and every one of you.”

“Together we had an unconventional summer, and therefore the opening of the school year will be different from previous years. We will open this year with the first two weeks encompassing a framework of mitigation [from the war], until we gradually return to a normal routine,” he said.

According to the plan, 164,999 educators will devote the first two weeks of studies to addressing the war that dominated the summer vacation. Students will spend the first days of the school year engaging in special creative activities, holding discussions with their teachers, sharing personal experiences and participating in sessions with guidance counselors.

This year is expected to see the implementation of Piron’s reform of “meaningful learning,” which among other changes introduces several reforms to the matriculation exams.

Matriculation exams will begin in 11th grade rather than 10th and will cover roughly 60-70 percent of the material learned, with the remaining 30% to be covered by a student research project.

English and mathematics continue to remain individual subjects, and each student is required to complete at least one unit of science.

In addition, in order to be eligible for a matriculation certificate, students are required to complete three years of individual volunteering and group community service.

In Jerusalem, the country’s largest school system, the municipality has been gearing up for the academic year, which sees some 266,000 pupils studying in the state-secular and state-religious education systems, as well as in Arab and ultra-Orthodox frameworks.

According to the Jerusalem Municipality, the past five years have seen a marked increase in the number of pupils enrolling in preschool and elementary schools in the state-secular and state-religious education systems to 63,225 pupils in 2014/15 from 59,349 pupils in 2011/12.

In addition, some 20,000 pupils and students have enrolled in private schools in east Jerusalem and some 105,000 pupils and students have enrolled in the ultra-Orthodox private education system.

“We are pleased to see the continuing upward trend in education institutions in the city and the developments and innovations in the quality of education provided to the children of the city,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said ahead of the opening of the school year.

Barkat proudly referred to the “Jerusalem advantage,” emphasizing the uniqueness of diversity in the city’s educational and cultural systems.

In Tel Aviv, a record 57,488 pupils and students are beginning classes on Monday, an increase of 1,424 pupils in the municipal school system from the previous year. Of these pupils, 4,183 are to begin preschool while an additional 4,500 are set to begin first grade.

According to the municipality, this year will see the addition of 52 new preschool classes, completing the city’s implementation of the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations to provide more frameworks for young children in the city.

“With great effort spanning years, the municipality has cultivated the educational system in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and has placed the education of future generations at the top of its priorities,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement on the municipality’s website.
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