Shas’s Cohen: Education Ministry has lost control over the education system

"The Education Ministry is gradually becoming irrelevant, because it is “losing its full grip and control of the system.”

October 6, 2014 00:57
2 minute read.

Classroom in Israel. [File]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The education minister and the ministry have lost control over the education system, State Control Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) said on Sunday.

He made these remarks following an investigative piece by TheMarker, which said the ministry has out-sourced NIS 11 billion of services.

“The fact that such a large sum, NIS 11b., goes to private commercial companies and organizations that provide education for our children is disturbing and dangerous. The damage to the system is multi-layered – first of all affecting the teacher in the classroom, who becomes irrelevant when for every problem there is an association or commercial company that provides a solution to the problem of the student,” said Cohen.

The Education Ministry is gradually becoming irrelevant, because it is “losing its full grip and control of the system,” he said.

“Finally, we pay taxes – and many of our money is devoted to the salaries and bonuses of the private companies that operate programs, and not toward the welfare of the students,” he said.

The State Comptroller’s Office already issued critical reports on the issue in 2008, 2009 and 2011 regarding the privatization of the education system, Cohen said.

TheMarker article provided many examples of nonprofit organizations and private companies that provided services to the Education Ministry. The ministry has a yearly budget of some NIS 46.4b., of which roughly a fourth is paid to outside companies, according to the report.

One example was Marmanet, a leading company for outsourcing project management and operation in the public and private sectors. According to the article, Marmanet is often cited when discussing the “privatization of the education system” due to its extensive Education Ministry contracts.

In 2013, the company had revenues of NIS 130.5 million and profit of NIS 9.8m., with the CEO earning some NIS 1.6m, the article said.

In another example, TheMarker found that 75 percent of children in elementary school use the textbooks of the Center for Educational Technology, a nonprofit organization. The center also runs content websites, online databases and distance learning programs, writes some of the questions on matriculation exams and operates the Avney Rosha Institute that trains principals.

In 2012, the center’s revenue from state offices was NIS 67.2m. and the CEO’s salary was NIS 594,000 (gross), according to the report.

Cohen said the State Control committee will continue to discuss the issue after Knesset returns from recess on October 27.

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