In a plan meant to keep Israel's teenagers busy as most high schools and some junior high schools enter the seventh day of a teachers' strike, the Education Ministry has teamed up with the Union of Local Authorities to develop a nationwide program of youth activities.
The Treasury-approved NIS 5m. budget for the program will be taken from funds meant for the salaries of striking teachers.
More than 90 percent of Israel's education spending goes to salaries.
The program, which will be launched in the coming days, was meant "to prevent vagrancy, violence and the like," the Education Ministry said in a statement, which also noted "that the government does not see this plan as a replacement for the work of teachers and schools, but as a temporary, informal, professional response... for the duration of the strike."
The program will be run by local authorities, with activities developed and run by youth groups, community centers, local authorities, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, youth hostels and other groups.
A special coordinating office has been set up in the Education Ministry to manage the effort.
The Secondary School Teachers Organization has been on strike since October 10 to protest the lack of a collective wage agreement. It has refused to sign on to the wage deal already reached with the National Teachers Union, the larger of the two national unions, that would include a 25% pay raise in exchange for a 30% increase in work hours.