Fighting for education

Posted: March 4, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Israel
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Unfortunately, up to 40% of these children will not receive their High School degree

Unfortunately, up to 40% of these children will not receive their High School degree

An opinion article that caught my eye today was Aluf Benn’s opinion posted on Haaretz’s website. Benn writes about Israel’s education system – every Israeli would agree it needs improvement – and different approaches taken by either Likud or Labor to improve the poor results children withing Israeli educational system show.

Benjamin Netanyahu wants to shock the system again, through a “massive reform.” In his election campaign, he promised “to restore Israeli children to the top 10 spots in international testing within a decade.” Netanyahu is proposing emulating the reforms in Finland, the only western country where children outperform Korean, Japanese and Chinese students in mathematics and sciences. He does not reject offhand raising teachers’ salaries, but he thinks it is much more important to bolster the prestige of the profession by making acceptance standards more difficult. Neither doctors nor pilots earn a great deal, Netanyahu says, but the exclusivity of their professions raises their pride in their work. Like in Finland, every Israeli teacher should have at least a master’s degree, Netanyahu believes.

Benn, of course, is right. It took Finland decades to build up their educational system and their country does not suffer constant wars. However, there is another factor in play in Israel: unless politicians stop fighting for Minister seats and finally appoint a professional to take over the Ministry of Education – the situation is unlikely to change.


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