Israel Could Face Shortage of 12,000 Teachers by 2019

Population growth in Israel means that the country will be facing a shortage of high school teachers in the next five years at both the primary and secondary education levels.

According to By Danielle Zir of The Jerusalem Post, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) shows that nearly 12,000 more high school teachers will be needed in the education system in Israel by the year 2019. The needs are particularly acute in primary schools. Although high school subjects like math, biology and chemistry will also fall short, the STEM areas face lesser shortages.

The demand for math teachers, according to CBS report, in high school is expected to reach 6,484 teachers by 2019, an increase of 1,745 compared to last year. The report also reveals that the demand for English teachers will increase and reach 5,300 educators by 2019, an addition of 1,226 to the numbers from 2012.

Other subjects including biology, physics and chemistry are likely not be greatly affected within the next five years, according to CBC data.

The CBC report also found that the number of pupils in the local education system is expected to grow by some 182,000 students and reach about 1,744,000 students by 2019.

In the Hebrew education system, a 12% increase, or 139,000 students, is expected with the annual growth rate of the number of students almost doubling over the projected period from less than 1% to 1.8% annually. It is also expected that children in Arab schools will grow by about 40,000 pupils, 10% more than in 2012.

In addition, the CBC figures show that the highest increase in the number of students is expected in primary education with an additional 123,000 pupils. Some 63,000 extra students are expected in ultra-orthodox schools. By 2019, some 60% of Israel's pupils will be studying in the Jerusalem area, Tel Aviv and the Center.

Dr. Smadar Donitsa-Schmidt, head of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Kibbutzim College of Education, does not agree with these CBC research, saying that these "CBS projections are exclusively based on demographic data of Israeli society in general."

Donitsa-Schmidt has conducted research of her own on the teacher shortage issue in the Israel. She said that "other things can also happen in the system itself like teachers quitting their jobs, or that the number of students per classroom could grow.

"Of course demography is very important, but there are a lot more elements to be taken into consideration here, such as any changes in the rate of enrollment in the education system, families who move out of the country, families moving inside the country, teachers going to teach in different levels of education, different sectors or different subjects, and many more."

According to Donitsa-Schmidt, although a shortage of teachers does definitely exist in the country, CBS' projections "have often predicted dramatic shortages in the past, which ultimately have not proven to be true."

Donitsa-Schmidt added that the data focuses on "very superficial factors" instead of asking the more important question, which in her opinion should be: "Who are the teachers who teach our children?" "The problem here is even bigger," she explained, "Today you have teachers who sometimes teach subjects which are not their specialties, and some even teach with no license. That's what we should worry about."

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