The Education Ministry will invest over NIS 17 million in significantly improving English education in Israeli schools, the ministry said on Wednesday. The new initiative primarily revolves around teacher training, but will also see the purchase of some 30,000 English-language reading books for Israeli schools. "The ministry has decided to strengthen the instruction of English and to allocate all necessary resources to this effort," promised ministry director-general Shmuel Abuav. A statement issued by the ministry further declared that "the Education Ministry is putting English studies at the forefront of the pedagogic agenda." According to the plan, the ministry is now permitted to place the 860 third- and fourth-year English education students in teaching positions in elementary and high schools throughout the country. In addition, the ministry has set aside NIS 8 million for a special two-year training course in English education for those possessing a B.A. degree in English or for those who have a B.A. in any other subject and arrived in Israel from English-speaking countries. Following a selection process, 100 chosen candidates will undergo the 16 hour/week study program that includes close personal guidance by a pedagogic adviser. In the first year of their studies, the candidates will teach part-time in a school while earning a full-time salary, allowing them to study with as little distraction as possible. Their second year will include full-time study and an education internship. NIS 8 million will be offered in scholarships worth NIS 6,500 per year, or roughly two-thirds of tuition, for students who switch over to majoring in English instruction. The scholarship comes with the stipulation that the students actively teach in schools following their graduation. Finally, the new plan includes the NIS 1m. purchase of 30,000 English-language reading books for elementary school libraries, coupled with a curriculum that includes 20 minutes of reading time in each class, to be followed by a written book report.