2 million Israeli children begin new school year

Number of pupils reaches record high as free education for three-to-four year olds implemented.

Netanyahu visits with pupils on 1st day of school 370 (photo credit: Courtesy PMO)
Netanyahu visits with pupils on 1st day of school 370
(photo credit: Courtesy PMO)
Millions of Israeli parents will breathe a sigh of relief on Monday, as the 2012-2013 school year officially begins for children across the country, bringing an end to the long summer vacation.
For the first time ever the number of pupils enrolled in Israeli schools and kindergartens has reached over two million, a 2.8 percent increase over two school years ago.
The Israeli school system has expanded across the board, with 1,582,000 children in schools today, over 1,531,500 two years ago, and the number of kindergarten pupils growing from 373,000 to 423,000.
Today, there are 62,955 classrooms in the Israeli school system over 58,009 two years earlier, while the number of educational staff dealing with them has risen to 141,085 over 130,000 two years ago.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mentioned the implementation of free education for three-to-four year olds, which he put introduced following the social justice protests. Netanyahu called the move, “something which we dreamed about for 64 years and spoke about for decades with a non-existent law. We are honoring this law and investing in it.”
He also mentioned the construction of 900 new nursery schools in Israel.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) also praised the new free education from children ages three and four, as well as new afternoon daycare centers in poorer local councils, and new subsidies for school trips.
“The education system is undergoing very deep changes related to the reforms that we are leading on all age levels. I believe that if we continue this way – both with investments and policy directions – in another decade, Israel will be among the leading countries of the world in terms of education systems. I absolutely believe that this is possible and achievable, and we will do it,” Sa’ar said.
Netanyahu also issued a greeting to six-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents, Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, were killed during the 2008 terrorist attack at the Chabad House in Mumbai, India. Netanyahu said that as Holtzberg joins first grade tomorrow all of the prayers of the people of Israel are with him.