Education Min. director dismissed in dispute over vaccination in schools

Yigal Slovik was fired following disagreements with minister Shasha-Biton in regards to the Israeli education system's handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

 Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Education Minister director-general Yigal Slovik arrive to a press conference on August 31, 2021 (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Education Minister director-general Yigal Slovik arrive to a press conference on August 31, 2021
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton dismissed the ministry’s director-general, Yigal Slovik, from his role on Sunday.

Slovik, who was appointed director-general in July, was fired following disagreements with Shasha-Biton about the education system’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Monday, Israel began its coronavirus vaccination campaign for children ages 5-11 in schools. Shasha-Biton has been said to actively oppose the campaign, which was supported and led by Slovik.

In August, prior to the start of the new school year, she told N12 that vaccinations at schools would be a “crime.” Shortly after her interview, Slovik opposed her views in a 103FM interview, saying the Education Ministry “does not have a problem with vaccinations in schools.”

While Slovik will only be officially dismissed from his role on January 1, 2022, he is de facto no longer the director-general, as he was given a leave of absence for the rest of December.

 Children aged 5-11 receive their first first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, at Clallit vaccination center in Jerusalem on November 25, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Children aged 5-11 receive their first first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, at Clallit vaccination center in Jerusalem on November 25, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Shasha-Biton commented on her decision to fire Slovik during New Hope’s faction meeting on Monday, responding to accusations of a wrongful dismissal.

“Sometimes we are required to make difficult decisions, and I made a decision,” she said at the meeting.

“We have a wonderful team working on the vaccination campaign. The former director-general [Slovik] did a good job along with everyone else,” she said.

Shasha-Biton also responded to allegations which accused her of unfairly dismissing Slovik based on personal considerations. “The considerations were professional; any outside noises are total fake news.”

The Education Ministry also released a statement on Slovik’s dismissal, stating that it was “committed to all decisions made by the government and the corona cabinet.

“We wish Mr. Yigal Slovik well in his future endeavors,” the statement said.