Israel’s Bennett Pushes for Practical English, More School Time

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

During a special Knesset Education Committee, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced a series of upcoming educational reforms to be implemented over the course of the next academic year. The emphasis will be on teaching more practical English in Israeli schools, and students with special education needs will get more classes.

Bennett started his speech in front of the Committee by showing his appreciation to all school principals in the country. He said they were the real rock of the education system and despite all the constraints, they achieved impressive results. The Education Minister confirmed his long-term goal following the reforms was to have more than 18,000 students pass the matriculation exams in math within the coming four years, noted the Jewish Press.

Furthermore, all educational institutions in Israel will get additional 2,000 hours of English, said Bennett. He pointed out that excellent English knowledge was crucial for the future career development of today’s students. More specifically, he emphasized on the real-life language training:

“Less Shakespeare, more practical English.”

As Shahar Chai of the Ynetnews wrote, another challenge in front of the minister was to narrow down the education gap between the central and peripheral neighborhoods in Israel. Bennett announced that $13 million have already been allocated to finance the transportation of Bedouin children to schools. As of the beginning of this academic year, schools in the Arab area will start teaching Hebrew in the first grade, said the minister. Speaking about the Arab communities, Bennett explained the government has been trying to promote values of love and mutual respect to the Israeli heritage and history. Students age 8-15 will have additional Jewish and Israeli classes, as many of the Arab students were not fluent in Hebrew.

The Ministry of Education has also doubled the school budget for cultural tours of the country. The government will also combat ethnic discrimination in the admission process of schools nationwide, particularly the ultra-Orthodox.

As a part of the reforms, the government will also aim to reduce the number of high school dropouts, said the minister.

The government will also pay extra attention to the students with special needs, wrote Dror Halavy of the Hamodia. Effective immediately, they will finish school not on July 30, but on August 15, and they will also have classes during the holiday season in September-October. When the educational institutions are closed during the summer break, Israeli parents have been struggling to find a framework for their kids, commented the minister – he said that not every family can afford to pay for summer camps because they are often too expensive. The school year extension is valid also for physically handicapped students, including blind and deaf children, as well as those with less serious psychological issues attending special classes.

In conclusion, Bennett announced that the new academic year would open on time. He confirmed that he did not expect any teachers’ strike or any other labor-related issues.