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What the Education System Needs Is More Efficiency, Not Budgets

What the Education System Needs Is More Efficiency, Not Budgets

Ma’ariv, Israel, December 23

The Israeli education system is experiencing one of its most difficult eras ever: turnover in senior staff, school violence, and the massive resignation of teachers. During the coronavirus period, an important change took place: not only did we learn to provide distance education solutions, but we also got the opportunity, for the first time ever, to re-evaluate how our education system works and, consequently, where it fails. There is no doubt that we’re entering an alarming crisis. Data shows a growing shortage of teachers across the country, especially in English education. Teachers are resigning en masse in pursuit of other jobs, and not even pay raises will make them stay. Normally, this is when alarm bells would be rung and serious people with a brain in their heads would convene meetings, assess the situation, and come up with a plan. But not in our country. One director-general of the Education Ministry comes and another goes. There is no sense of ownership or seriousness. Political appointments take precedence over technical ones. Before everything falls apart and severe anarchy takes place in our schools, the first thing we must do is reduce the size of our classrooms. COVID-19 forced us to hold classes in groups of no more than 12 to 18 students. This must be continued even if the virus disappears. There is considerably more potential for success – both on the academic as well as the social and interpersonal front — in a small classroom. Intimate learning environments, collaboration, proper attention to students’ needs, and group activities all boost the learning experience and help improve educational outcomes. Rapid transition to small classes depends on several public factors. The main public factor is local government. The Education Ministry cannot solve local problems from its ivory tower. Local authorities will have to find more classroom spaces in public buildings, in addition to what is available within school complexes, or move to learning in shifts. Furthermore, the number of teaching hours should be considerably reduced to four 55-minute classes a day, five days a week. The sixth day will be devoted to personal learning at home, via Zoom classes. This will help offset the growing shortage of teachers while ensuring that students receive the proper attention they need. We can also recruit help from Education Ministry retirees, youth movement instructors, and national service volunteers. This may come as a shock to many but what our education system needs isn’t a budget increase, but more efficiency and productivity. Avraham Fink (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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