Israel will be severely lacking in special education teaching staff in the next academic year, leading to a shortened school day for autistic students, the Education Ministry announced.
Knesset's Education, Culture, and Sports Committee met on Monday to discuss to the potential need to shorten the school day for autistic students for the 2023/24 school year due to a shortage of staff – just over 1,300 special education teachers would be needed. This number has jumped by over 150 since July 2022.
This lack of teachers, support staff, and other workers in the special education sector would effectively call for a shortened school day for autistic students by 45 minutes, from 4:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The decision-making process behind this was led by MK Yosef Taieb, chairman of the Knesset's Education, Culture, and Sports Committee.
Israel's education budget and continued tensions and conflicts over the matter led Israel's teachers to strike in 2023.
Israel's teacher shortage
In July 2022, The Jerusalem Post reported on the nationwide teacher shortage. At the time, it was estimated , Israel is in need of nearly 6,000 teachers, mostly in educational institutions in the center of the country, the Education Ministry announced on Sunday, just six weeks before the opening of the school year.
According to data released by the ministry in 2022, 5,671 staffers were missing from the roster. When broken down by grade level, the greatest shortage is in elementary schools — with 2,351 teachers missing.
"We are in the midst of the peak of a human resources shortage that has only gotten worse in the last few years and is seriously endangering the future of Israel's education system," then education minister Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope) said at the time.
Some subjects are lacking more than others, with the shortage including 871 English teachers, 352 math teachers, and 329 Hebrew teachers, according to the 2022 data. Location-wise, the region of Tel Aviv experienced the greatest shortage, according to the data — 1,847.
Israel's Center was in second place, with a shortage of 1,642 teachers. The settlements saw a shortage of 948 teachers; the Haifa area saw a shortage of 457 teachers; the Jerusalem area saw a shortage of 305 teachers; the South saw a shortage of 340 teachers; and the North saw a shortage of 132 teachers.
"Israel's education system is in a state of collapse," said the Teachers Union at the time. "For years, we have been decrying the intense shortage we are experiencing."