Israeli school system suffering from ‘major leadership crisis’

“I believe that the quality of a nation cannot exceed the quality of its school leaders and we are in a major leadership crisis,” Gil Pereg said.

 Dr. Gil Pereg, CEO, Darca Schools (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Dr. Gil Pereg, CEO, Darca Schools
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

Israel is experiencing a substantial shortage of excellent principals and talented leaders to run its schools in the future, according to Darca Schools CEO Dr. Gil Pereg.

“I believe that the quality of a nation cannot exceed the quality of its school leaders and we are in a major leadership crisis,” Pereg said.

He was speaking on Tuesday at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference.

The Education Ministry recently released the data on how many students completed their matriculation exams, showing around 73%. But according to Pereg, this does not include students who did not take the exams, such as school dropouts. In other words, the percentage is much lower – probably closer to 50%.

“When you think about this number – this number should really keep us all awake at night,” Pereg said. “What it means is that in stronger places like Ra’anana, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv, 80% or 90% are [passing their exams] and in other places that looks more like 20% or 30%.

“It is unfair, immoral and unsustainable,” he added. “To break this poor and vicious connection between poor socioeconomic background and the achievements of students growing up in these communities, Darca was launched.”

The organization is currently operating in 43 high schools with more than 24,000 students and its success rate is around 93%.

It has succeeded to show that once you fund the schools in a fair way and level the playing field, and once you bring in talented principals, students in the periphery can achieve exactly the same results as their peers in more affluent parts of the country.

Moreover, in order to address the leadership challenge, Darca Schools, with the assistance of the Azrieli Foundation, have just launched a groundbreaking educational leadership accelerator.

“Our goal is to attract the most talented individuals to become school principals,” Pereg said. “Darca is making sure the entire nation has enough adequate principals to be running the schools of the future.”

Watch The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference video in full.