Eliav Batito, head of the student council, from the Yeshiva High school AMIT Yehuda in Afula.
(photo credit: NETANEL BEN-AMI)
A group of students brought their concerns to a meeting of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee on Monday, ahead of the upcoming school year.
MK Ya’acov Margi, chairman of the committee, welcomed representatives of student councils from junior high and high schools across the country to the Knesset.
“We really want to learn from you,” Margi told the students, promising to listen to their needs and not waste their time.
MKs Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) and Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union) also welcomed the students, and Ben-Ari emphasized the importance of hearing from them after months of listening to adults’ opinions on education.
Eliav Batito, head of the student council, opened the discussion on behalf of the students, thanking the Knesset for listening to them. The students raised issues ranging from philosophical discussions on the education system as a whole to practical problems in which schools ignore Education Ministry directives.
In some areas, according to the students, schools start before 8 a.m., despite a rule against it. The student representatives mentioned studies that discuss how an early starting time impairs cognitive function and concentration throughout the day – information the Education Ministry itself relied on in making the rule.
Itai Shoval, the representative from the Tel Aviv Regional Student Council, spoke of a local program in which the council had come to an agreement with local authorities to synchronize the times of formal and informal education, to ensure that students from all parts of the city can participate in youth-group activities without missing school or having to study for significant exams the next day.
Omer Bar, vice chairman of the council, said that: “today, unfortunately, schools are factories for exam scores.” He said schools are often defined by their academic achievements, while students are interested in more value-based education and emphasis on studying “for the sake of learning.”
Students, according to Bar, are interested in volunteering and community values and in learning more “real-life” topics that will assist them in life after school.
Other students spoke of a need for more diverse education, including ensuring that more points of view are reflected in the curriculum and encouraging more dialogue between different sectors in society.
Ben-Ari promised to look into the program to synchronize the schedules of formal and informal education and also to be available for future interaction and problem solving throughout the school year.