Meir Sheetrit assumed his new position as education minister Wednesday, replacing Limor Livnat.
Although Sheetrit will serve as education minister for just over two months, he assumes the Education portfolio faced with the threat made several weeks ago by the teachers unions, who warned they would strike before the elections if they do not reach a new, collective salary agreement with the Education and Finance ministries.
Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem
, Sheetrit expressed some criticism of the Dovrat Report prepared under Livnat, and said he believed the teachers should have been given an active role in the preparation of the report.
The attempt to implement the reform, he added, created a crisis among parents, teachers, and teachers unions, which required the restoration of harmony to the education system.
Nevertheless, he said in reference to the teachers' threats, "I don't work according to any stopwatch, not even that of the teachers union."
Sheetrit also warned that the stalled approval of the 2006 budget posed serious difficulties for the Education Ministry, which will not have the funds to prepare for the opening of the new school year next September.
He also announced he would fight the Finance Ministry's intention to privatize the country-wide network of state-backed community centers, which offer cultural and educational activities for adults and children.
Finally, he expressed his reservations about the Winograd Committee report, which recommended a gradual reduction in academic tuition fees, arguing that the committee's decision made the universities dependent on the budget of the Council for Higher Education, and that academic research at Israeli universities had been impaired as a result.