A 'new horizon'?

'The relationship between a teacher and his/her pupil is not based on business or economics," senior deputy director-general and director of the ministry's Pedagogic Administration Lea Rozenberg said in a statement, responding to Erez's claims that the Education Ministry sees pupils as "customers" - thus limiting teachers' ability to address disciplinary issues. Rozenberg said that the school system was about imparting and gaining knowledge, and that parents took a part in that process. "The ministry believes that this relationship should be one of partnership and open dialogue," she stressed. Furthermore, Rozenberg said, strengthening teachers' status is one of the ministry's main goals. Therefore, as part of the "New Horizon" reforms, which were implemented this year in 313 schools and are slated to expand to another 450, Education Minister Yuli Tamir took measures to improve teachers' status, including pay raises and improved working conditions. Rozenberg pointed out that the New Horizon reforms allow teachers to work with students in small groups, fostering more personal contact, a method the ministry believes will greatly improve the relationship between teachers and students and their parents. Additionally, in the 2008/2009 school year, the ministry plans to launch a program of "personal education" for seventh graders under the auspices of the New Horizon plan. The personal education program calls for two teachers to hold an hour-long educational conversation with pupils four times a week. Rozenberg said that the Education Ministry was operating other programs that were intended to improve the school atmosphere, in which both teachers and students were taking part.