Outgoing Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and incoming Minister Shai Piron participated in a formal exchange ceremony held at the Ministry of Education in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon.

“I can say today, that I have reached the top of my dreams,” Shai Piron said as he entered his new position.

“I don’t dream of anything else, any other job,” he continued, “In my eyes, today I find myself at the most sacred place, mainly because I think Education is the ultimate link between past, present and future. It is one large point of convergence.”

In his speech, Piron emphasized the important role of teachers, who he referred to as “the heart of the system”, and stressed that much has to be done in order for society to recognize their importance.

“It is also important to say: we love kids. Sometimes we forget this because we are busy taking care of things and doing things and we forget that we are here for the kids,” Piron added.

The new minister, who had invited his first grade teacher to the ceremony, reiterated his commitment to bridging gaps and combating discrimination in the education system as well as advancing the integration of special education pupils into the regular system and working to allow children of the periphery to “dream big dreams”.

As he handed his responsibilities over, Gideon Sa’ar, who was appointed Interior Minister last week, thanked the ministry’s employees for their “loyalty and good spirit” over the four-year term.

“We squeezed reforms and initiatives of maybe two decades into one term,” Sa’ar said, “Each day there were new steps and you did a great job. I knew this system at its best, a system that people liked to attack and trample down. You can be proud.”

Sa’ar added that he sees the past four years as “the golden age of the education system”, a period during which education shifted to the top of the national agenda, as its budget grew by NIS 12 billion.

“Everything I did at the ministry was based on belief,” the outgoing minister stated, “I believed in the things I worked to advanced, even when I got attacks and criticism.”

He also stated that the government must continue to invest in education, which he sees as “the future of the State of Israel”.

Executive director of the ministry, Dalit Stauber, who will remain in her position under Piron, welcomed the new minister and thanked Sa’ar for his “trust and friendship”.

“The Education Ministry that you are leaving today is much better, much more ready for the 21st century than the one you received,” she told Sa’ar.

The ceremony, which also included speeches by outgoing Deputy Minister of education Menachem Eliezer Moses and Piron’s incoming deputy  Avi Wortzman, ended with the national anthem and a toast in honor of the upcoming Passover holiday.

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