After the Education Ministry introduced lesson plans on Friday that include the judicial reform debate, protest groups on Monday said the government is promoting the reform, anti-LGBTQ values, the exclusion of women, and racism.
Education Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) canceled his attendance at an Education Ministry conference in Tel Aviv on Monday due to a rally of several hundred people at the entrance, according to protest groups.
“The coup d’état is passing through education,” a collection of NGOs under the banner “The Education Protest” said in a statement on Monday, adding that bias had been written into the new version of civics textbooks.
Protests were scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday at Education Ministry events and at Kisch’s home ahead of the start of the school year on Friday.
Eleven groups, including the Movement for Quality Government in Israel and Building an Alternative, were part of the “emergency coalition” that said the education system was being “hijacked by anti-liberal extremists.”
The campaign accused the government of giving more funds to Jewish pupils than to Arab students, overcrowding classes, silencing teachers, excluding women, and “rewriting the citizenship books and promoting the idea of a regime coup.”
The Student Protest group was also present at the Tel Aviv University protest, with a representative telling The Jerusalem Post they sought to strengthen public education “in the face of the threat of LGBT-phobic content by [Noam MK] Avi Maoz and the ethnocratic content of the Kohelet Forum, led by Minister Kisch, who seeks to weaken public education, transfer teachers to employment under personal contracts, and harm freedom of expression in the education system.”
How are judicial reform, anti-liberal values being included in education?
On Friday, the Education Ministry published the lesson plan “Education for all opinions – learning to manage disputes,” which was designed to address social divisions and disputes in Israeli society.
“The education system has a significant role in creating a connection and a common language between population groups in Israeli society,” Kisch said. “The administrators of the system will receive additional tools to deal with conflicts for the new school year, which is about to begin and that will be dedicated to accepting different opinions, strengthening social cohesion, strengthening solidarity, and preventing social polarization.”
The program includes lesson plans about the judicial reform. A slideshow explains both sides of the judicial-reform debate and the key disputes of the legal overhaul, including the Judicial Selection Committee and the override clause. The lesson plan is for grades 10-12.
The Education Ministry defended the program on Sunday, saying it was written by a broad team of education professionals, without any involvement from the education minister. The Education Ministry said the lesson plan would continue to evolve with input from teachers and principals.