‘Israeli pupils rank low in science, technology’

MK Ronit Tirosh recommends holding separate-gender classes in sciences.

Students in classroom 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Students in classroom 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Recent international comparisons have shown that only 4 percent of Israeli high school pupils excel in mathematics and 5% in the sciences, compared to rates of their counterparts in east Asia, where they are 20% to 30%.
MK Ronit Tirosh, chairwoman of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee, said in a session on Monday that pupils of science and technology should be exposed also to “alternative frameworks that are more pleasant than those in the formal school system.”
Committee members were presented with research by Dr. Ofer Rimon, head of the Education Ministry’s science and technology administration, and Dr. Dimitri Romanov, the chief scientist of the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The findings dealt with the scientific and technological potential of Israeli pupils and the long-term significance of this potential.
Tirosh, a former Education Ministry director-general, noted that in some countries, boys and girls are intentionally separated in high school science classes – which raises the girls’ level of studies and results in sciences being a more popular choices for them.
Two years ago, the ministry launched a new process aimed at strengthening science and technology studies among pupils. Without preparing a cadre of young people in science and technology, it warned, “there is a real danger that Israel will find itself in the future at a lower level than Iran or China.”
The earlier such subjects are studied, the better the children progress, the two researchers said. In haredi schools that teach these subjects, they said, girls are better than the boys in scientific and technological studies.
Tirosh suggested that extracurricular programs in science and technology – even in universities – should be considered to trigger pupils’ interest, and that the sexes should be separated in these classes to promote the advancement of girls.