Saving Israel's schools from themselves

’Education Now’ conference to address academic challenges

Israeli education (illustrative) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israeli education (illustrative)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Amid studies showing Israeli schools are in a state of decline, educators will gather in Kiryat Ono Tuesday to brainstorm how to improve education for the country’s youth.
Hosted by former education minister Gideon Sa’ar and attended by President Reuven Rivlin, the day-long Education Now conference at Ono Academic College will bring together leaders in the field of academics to address issues including how to inspire people to be better educators; how to improve the schools of tomorrow; and what are the most important skills to learn today.
The timing of the conference could not be more appropriate with less than two weeks to go before the start of the school year and studies indicating that half of Israeli students are getting a third world education.
“The revolution I propose is to make the profession prestigious and respected,” Sa’ar said in a statement released Monday.
“We need to put a finger on our priorities. In measuring the success of education, research has shown the most important variable is the quality of teaching. To put it simply – the most important aspect is bringing the best and brightest into the education system and keeping them there,” he said.
The plan, Sa’ar said, includes many elements that are a part of the teacher’s position such as training, salary and low minimum requirements to enter the field.
“[This plan] can bring quality to the system and promise a future for education that will ensure the future of Israel,” he continued.
Attendees also will be addressed via live chat by Finnish academic Andreas Schleicher who will cover the ideals highlighted by Sa’ar in greater detail.
“Top school systems pay attention to how they select and educate their staff,” Schleicher said in a statement Monday. “They improve the performance of teachers who are struggling and they structure teachers’ pay to reflect professional standards.
They provide an environment in which teachers work together to frame good practice. And they provide intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers.”
In addition to receiving a fair salary, Schleicher said educators must be passionate, compassionate and thoughtful to respond effectively to students of different needs, backgrounds and languages; promote tolerance and social cohesion; and ensure that students feel valued and included and that learning is collaborative.
“We expect teachers themselves to collaborate and work in teams and with other schools and parents to set common goals and plan and monitor the attainment of goals,” he said.