The Knesset plenum voted Monday in favor of a proposal to delay the compulsory education law for children aged three to four by one year.

The proposal, approved in its first reading, passed by a vote of 22-9 and seeks to amend and delay the implementation of the law from the 2014-15 academic year to the 2015-16 year.

Deputy Education Minister Avraham Wortzman explained that “the application of the law allowing free education from age three and up has already been implemented.”

Rather, according to Wortzman, the previous government decided that significant structural change would be required following the application and implementation of the law.

“Since many authorities have not completed the construction of all the preschools, and since it is estimated they will not be completed in time, it was decided to postpone the implementation of the law in order to allow the system to get organized,” said Wortzman.

Critics of the delay have charged that this is not a sufficient reason for the postponement of the law.

“It’s already been 30 years since we have been speaking about this law that was passed in 1984 and that since then has already been postponed seven times. Each time, the reason is that there is no budget. In January 2012, the government decided to adopt the recommendations from the Trachtenberg committee report to finance compulsory education, and now there is no reason not to apply the law,” MK Meshulam Nahari (Shas) said.

Education Minister Shai Piron initiated the request to the government to amend and delay the law on Sunday. The education ministry has said that 92% of children aged 3 to 4 are already enjoying free education.

The proposal will pass to the Education Committee for preparation of a second and third (final) reading.

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