School ‘irrelevant’ to children during COVID-19, principal tells Knesset

Education at lowest point in history because of ‘political feuds.’

Pupils sitting behind partition boards made of plexiglass attend a class at a primary school (photo credit: REUTERS)
Pupils sitting behind partition boards made of plexiglass attend a class at a primary school
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The country’s education level is at its “lowest point in history because of political feuds” Yesh Atid MK Yorai Lahav Hertzanu told the Knesset Education Committee on Tuesday. Schools as they currently run are now irrelevant to young people during COVID-19, Principal Roee Tapliz told the committee.
“Today’s children come not to a school, but to a home, with a kitchen, a living room and work rooms,” he said.
The future of education is about leading students to learn independently and be socially active in the larger society, Tapliz argued.
Up until now, the debate focused on health protocols to assure the school year will open on September 1, Blue and White MK Ram Shefa said. Little attention was given to how the pandemic can be turned to Israel’s advantage by innovating and improving its educational system.
The “capsule” system promoted by the Education Ministry, Shefa claimed, is essentially teaching smaller classes. “People talked about the “sardine can classroom” for years, this was changed in a moment”, he said, because of coronavirus.
Under the ‘Studying in Safety’ NIS 4.2 billion program championed by the Education Ministry, grades five and up will mix remote learning with classroom attendance. The ministry currently lacks thousands of teachers and it’s unknown how 20% of Israels’ children will learn from home without a computer.
Lautman Foundation Executive Director Yael Neeman presented the “Corona Studio” project, led by the Mifras Program, it included more than 30 educational institutions in a joint study on how to innovate education curriculums during COVID-19 among ultra-Orthodox and Arab-Israeli students, as well as some from other sectors.
Mifras CEO Dr. Bat Hen Weinheber pointed to how a lack of infrastructure is not always the issue, “even in communities which are so-called “strong” [wealthy] some kids cut classes and don’t file their homework,” when studying remotely, she said.
“We broke the borders of the school because we began speaking the same language of the students,”  Eli Dudai from Gil Rabin School in Sderot told the Knesset.
A math-teacher in his 40’s, he began to use the TikTok social media platform to offer his students content, and to teach classes longer than 45 minutes. He also taught in the evenings to match the student’s needs.
The committee asked the public to share ideas and 2,225 Israelis answered the call. They were overwhelmingly (over 50%) in favor of smaller classes, teaching outside the school building using movement, and integrating non-formal education to the school year. They were notified when their topics were discussed.