Life as a female smicha student .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Education Minister Shai Piron said on Tuesday he will introduce a new plan to reduce the gaps in Israeli society on a budgetary level.
Speaking at the Israel Democracy Institute’s Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society, Piron said the program would not be “cosmetic” but rather would add additional hours to the education system and “provide a key opportunity to correct a longstanding injustice.”
“Some want to minimize the gaps without determining an individual basket for each student. It will not work,” he said. “Without determining the basic common threshold for all Israeli children, which reflects the total hours that is the duty of the state to all students, it will not work. Therefore, the program that we will put forth will present the total number of hours suitable for each child in Israel.
“We cannot continue to talk about ‘the gaps.’ It is time to deal with them, with courage,” he added. “Someone transferred the gaps from a moral question to a political question. The fact that many of Israel’s poor are ultra-Orthodox or Arab has damaged the degree of responsibility and blackened the sense of emotional urgency and, to some extent, worn a dangerous mask between justification and denial.”
Minimizing the gaps is not solely an economic or budgetary issue, Piron said, but rather must be a cultural and moral priority.
“Minimizing the gaps involves children and souls not Arabs or ultra-Orthodox, Sephardim or Ashkenazim, center or periphery. Reducing gaps is about a child, the future and equal opportunities,” he said.
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education also addressed the issue of gaps in the Israeli education system at the conference, saying he was surprised to learn that 26 percent of Arab students graduating from the education system do not learn Hebrew.
“The problem starts with the absence of training teachers.
Meanwhile, the skirt length determines the type of education system and this only deepens the gaps,” he said, referring to the ultra-Orthodox sector.
“It is true that the budgetary issue is just the tip of the iceberg reflecting a much deeper problem and we should not be satisfied or focus only on budgeting,” he said.
Serious efforts should be made to reach children at a younger age in an attempt to address and minimize the gaps, Trajtenberg added.
“No doubt, today we know much more about this, that a child’s cognitive abilities are determined at a very early stage. If we need to choose any stage to place our efforts, we have to be as serious as possible at this level. And this stage was completely abandoned, only today have we begun addressing it,” he said.
Trajtenberg added that today’s technology has created new opportunities to allow treatment for each child according to his or her “parameters.”