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Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon hold a news conference in Jerusalem yesterday about the shortening of school vacations.(Photo by: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bennett and Kahlon launch ‘School of the Holidays’
At the cost of NIS 400 million, Israeli schools will have less vacation days.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Monday announced a NIS 400 million plan to shorten school vacations.

“This is a tremendous announcement for young parents and for the middle class,” Kahlon said. “Parents who can go work and earn a living with peace of mind strengthen Israeli society and the economy.”

To date, pupils in the education system have a total of 80 vacation days per year compared to only 12 vacation days for parents.

According to the new plan, dubbed “School of the Holidays,” pupils will receive 10 added school days per academic year – the majority over the Hanukka and Passover holidays.

“This is historical justice for parents who will no longer have to choose between earning a salary and their children,” said Bennett at a joint press conference in Jerusalem.

“We promised this reform at the beginning of the [school] year and now we are keeping our promise.”

The plan will take effect already in the current academic year, so that children will receive five added school days during the Passover holiday from March 25 to March 29 and one added day during Shavuot.

In the non-Jewish education system children will receive five added school days for Spring holidays.

The new plan will apply to approximately one million pupils in preschool through third grade, including special education, and will cost an estimated NIS 40 million per day.

On the added days, schools will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. while preschools will run from 7:30 a.m.

to 1 p.m. and will include classes, cultural enrichment, a full educational staff as well as security.

Parents will have to shoulder a small fraction of the costs according to the level of the socioeconomic standing of the municipality. In the poorer municipalities, it will be free to parents, while in clusters five to seven the cost is NIS 20 per additional day and in the richest municipalities, the cost to parents will stand at NIS 30 per day.

Last month Bennett told the Knesset Education, Sports and Culture Committee that his ministry had already formulated a plan to shorten school vacation days and was ready to implement it but that it lacked the financing to see it through.

The committee called on the Finance Ministry to transfer the funds immediately, ahead of the Passover holiday, in an effort to help parents nationwide.

At the press conference, Bennett stressed that the plan was formulated in partnership with the Teachers’ Union as well as parents’ associations who welcomed the announcement.

“Today we are taking a first and very significant step towards the concept of vacation days for parents and children in preschools and elementary schools in Israel,” said Paz Cohen, Parents’ Association head.
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