Bennett unveils new education plan for North estimated at over NIS 500 million.
(photo credit: MIRI SHIMONOVITZ)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett unveiled an education plan for the North estimated at a cost of more than NIS 500 million on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference in Beit She’an, Bennett told more than 100 heads of municipalities from the region in attendance that the plan would “place the North at the center.”
“Real equal opportunity begins with education,” he said. “The entire government is committed to the North. I am committed first of all to education.”
The plan aims to minimize gaps in the education system between the periphery and Center of the country by offering equal opportunities to pupils from primary school through higher education.
As such, some NIS 125m. will be allocated to three main facets, including free extra-curricular activities for every fourth- and fifth-grader to begin during the 2017-18 academic year, provided in collaboration with the Israel Association of Community Centers.
Pupils will be able to choose one after-school activity ranging from English lessons to computers, robotics and entrepreneurship classes, as well as sports, music and arts classes.
Bennett emphasized that the plan for extracurricular activities was unique to the North.
In addition, the plan calls for local municipalities in clusters 4 through 6 (on a socioeconomic scale determined by the Central Bureau of Statistics ranging from 1 to 10) as well as non-Jewish municipalities such as Arab, Bedouin and Druse, to participate in a broad modular educational program.
The program gives four options to be chosen at the discretion of the municipality, consisting of: opening new youth centers, subsidizing extra-curricular activities, promoting informal activities to encourage excellence and treating young people at risk.
The third facet calls for the improvement of the educational environment by renovating schools in municipalities of low socioeconomic standing.
Another central component of the plan includes significant allocations for higher education. Among the goals are the establishment of a new university in Karmiel plus an additional NIS 10m. for academic colleges in the North.
The plan also calls for allocating some NIS 66m. to the Haifa University budget and significantly increasing the number of students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology studying subjects needed for industry.
Bennett concluded that, contrary to popular belief, Amona doesn’t “keep him up at night,” but rather the ability for children throughout the country to achieve five units in mathematics and receive equal opportunities just like any student in the Center.