Shimon Peres at his residence, 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
At the opening session of the Holon Conference on Education, President Shimon
Peres presented innovative ideas and called for changes that will make the hair
of Finance Minister Yair Lapid stand on end.
After all the cutbacks that
Lapid has introduced, including in child allotments, Peres wants the state to
provide free, nutritious food for all children from the time they are born till
they are three years old, because this is one of the most vital periods in the
healthy development of a child.
“Social justice begins in the cradle,” he
said on Thursday.
More than that, Peres proposed that the hefty revenues
that the state will receive from existing gas fields and further gas exploration
and discovery be invested not in banks or investment houses but in the nation’s
“If Israel does not invest in education today, Israel will not
be able to compete on a global scale tomorrow,” he warned. “If we do not sow
today, we will not be able to reap tomorrow.”
Peres is acutely familiar
with standards of education around the country. In the course of his weekly
visits to different communities throughout the country, he always makes a point
of visiting schools and addressing high school students.
the need to begin teaching children English when they are still in kindergarten
and to use it frequently as a second language, because English has become the
most universal language and is also the language most widely used in the digital
Citing some of the competition that tiny Israel has to face, Peres
said that Israel is competing against giants such as India, China and South
In India alone, he said, there are 400,000 engineering graduates
All children from at least grade one onward should have a
personal digital tablet as a learning tool throughout their school years, said
Peres, who sees it as an obligation on the part of the state to supply and
update such tablets.
He also urged that provision be made within the
education system for 11th- and 12thgrade students who are taking technical
subjects to be allowed to work for two hours each day in hi-tech companies, so
that they can acquire practical experience to complement their theoretical
This would also be beneficial to the companies, because the
students would be coming with fresh, innovative ideas that could be incorporated
in company products and solutions said Peres.
He has already spoken to
several hi-tech CEOs about bringing students into their companies for two hours
a day, and reaction has not only been favorable but enthusiastic.
revolutionary concept that Peres frequently mentions, and which in fact has been
adopted in a pilot program with the Open University, is that the government
should fund the first degree studies of every soldier doing army
The IDF should be transformed into an academic college
functioning in tandem with an army camp, he said.