Netanyahu faces near setback as education committee stalls parent payments

The Likud asked for a lengthy recess ahead of the vote following a stormy five-hour debate. The recess enabled the coalition to draft enough support for the cutbacks.

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July 7, 2019 23:30
2 minute read.
Netanyahu faces near setback as education committee stalls parent payments

The Knesset Education Committee. (photo credit: SHAKED KARABELNICOFF)

Netanyahu nearly suffered a political blow on Sunday when the opposition almost blocked a proposal for his government to no longer cover certain educational initiatives.

The Likud asked for a lengthy recess ahead of the vote following a stormy five-hour debate. The recess enabled the coalition to draft enough support for the cutbacks.

“[This is] a historic victory for the Blue and White in the Education Committee,” the party announced in a press release following the vote. “For the first time, we stopped the education system from robbing parents by halting the decision on parents' payments except for compulsory insurance for the year and books.”

The committee, who voted only for part of the parents payments, garnered a full room, filled with professionals in the educational fields who came with prepared speeches in addition to MK’s, urging government to prioritize the needs of struggling families.

“Some families don't have enough to send their child a sandwich for lunch, how are they supposed to pay for school trips?” heckled one member of the audience.

The topic of school trips was discussed at length by MK’s, as Blue and White urged that parents should not be responsible for the cost of class trips, claiming that this creates unnecessary financial divides between children.

“If we do not approve the parents payments, 80% of the parents will find a way to get their children on trips…. the ones who will struggle will be students from the lower socio-economic strata,” said Yaakov Margi, Shas MK and Chairman of the committee.

MK Orly Fruman, who began the preparations for the opening school year, accused the Education Ministry of treating parents as a cash register.

“It is time for long-term planning to ease the burden on the parents and for the state to take responsibility for funding what is called ‘free compulsory education,’” she said.

Likud MK, Keti Shitrit, said the committee should be placing focus on other issues, such as accommodating for children with allergies in lunch programs.

The lunch program was among the three components that were approved, including personal accident insurance and textbooks.

MK Karin Elharar, asked the committee to hold discussions on the Supervision of Day Care Law in the Education Committee during the election period.

“The demand that I passed on to the Education Committee to continue working energetically to advance the regulations of the Supervision of Day Care Law is beginning to take shape,” she said.

She demanded that changes come into affect before the elections.

“Our children cannot wait until the elections are over. The law has to go into effect on September 1, 2019, so that horror stories like Rosh Ha'ayin will never happen again,” she added, referring to the recent incident where a nursery teacher was charged with abuse.

An additional discussion will take place in a few days regarding the rest of the payments, including a cultural package, class parties, parent committees, and school trips.


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