An additional caregiver will be assigned to any pre-school class with more than 20 children aged three beginning in the (2014-15) academic year, Education Minister Shai Piron announced.

The program will cost an estimated NIS 44 million a year and is the result of “continued cooperation” between the Education and Finance ministries, the Education Ministry said late Monday night.

A pilot program at 450 preschools in the formal education framework is already receiving the additional assistance this year.

Next year, 1,200 assistant caregivers, young women from the national or civil service programs, will be assigned to additional pre-schools, and in the 2015-16 academic year another 400 women will join, completing the implementation of the plan.

The Education Ministry said it allocated the 1,600 positions to provide an “ideal response” to the needs of pre-schools and of children aged three.

The women will undergo professional training before joining the pre-schools. The ministry said it sees them as “reservists” for teaching in schools and pre-schools.

In addition, under an arrangement with teacher education colleges, the women will be able to study and take professional courses during their service that will provide academic credits should they continue studying teacher education following their service.

Piron thanked Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Deputy Education Minister Avraham Wortzman for their partnership in the project and for their efforts to advance early childhood initiatives.

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