English studies will be integrated into Jerusalem children's curriculums as early as preschool, the Israeli capital's municipality announced on Monday.
In March 2023, the Jerusalem Municipality will launch a pilot program with the cooperation of some 50 kindergartens across the city, which will begin teaching its kindergarteners English as a second language at the cost of NIS 2 million.
Should the pilot launch successfully, a full integration of English studies in all Jerusalem preschools will be completed in time for the next Israeli school year, which starts in September of next year.
The municipality further announced that the English lessons will be taught by outstanding Hebrew University students and English-speaking seniors and elders based in Jerusalem. Prior to teaching the children, they will undergo training conducted by the kindergarten staff, as well as the municipality's education administration.
Jerusalem Municipality: English studies initiative a 'win-win'
The municipality sees the initiative as a "win-win" situation, it wrote in a statement, as the connection between Jerusalem's elders and youth that will be formed as part of the project "gives added value to all participants and communities."
Mayor Moshe Lion stressed that English studies are "essential," stating that the municipality's new project will "enrich the education of our kindergartens."
The initiative means that "preschoolers will go to first grade with established prior knowledge and capabilities that will strengthen and enhance the self-confidence and abilities of every child in Jerusalem," the mayor added. "Jerusalem's education system is excellent and it is in our intentions to continue improving it in the years to come."
Education front and center in government negotiations
The announcement of the Jerusalem initiative comes amid political controversy surrounding the Israeli education establishment and MK Avi Maoz, who is set to take up the new “National Jewish Identity Department,” which will hold the power to delegate required content in school syllabi.
Maoz's coalition partner, United Torah Judaism MK and the next housing minister Yitzhak Goldknopf made inflammatory comments prior to November's election, claiming that core subjects such as math and English had "no effect on the economy."