What the education system needs is more efficiency, not budgets

Ma’ariv, Israel, December 23

The Israeli education system is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history: staff turnover, school violence and the massive resignation of teachers. During the period of the coronavirus, an important change has occurred: not only have we learned to offer distance learning solutions, but we have also had the opportunity, for the first time, to re-evaluate the functioning of our system. educational and, therefore, where it fails. There is no doubt that we are entering an alarming crisis. The data shows a growing shortage of teachers across the country, especially in teaching in English. Teachers are quitting in droves in search of other jobs, and even pay raises won’t keep them. Normally, this is when the alarm bells ring and serious people with brains in their heads call meetings, assess the situation and come up with a plan. But not in our country. A director general of the Ministry of Education comes and another leaves. There is no sense of belonging or seriousness. Political appointments take precedence over technical appointments. Before everything falls apart and severe anarchy takes hold of our schools, the first thing we need to do is reduce the size of our classrooms. COVID-19 has forced us to organize lessons in groups of 12 to 18 students maximum. This must be continued even if the virus disappears. There is much more potential for success – both academically and socially and interpersonally – in a small class. Intimate learning environments, collaboration, appropriate attention to student needs, and group activities stimulate the learning experience and help improve academic outcomes. The rapid transition to small classes depends on several public factors. The main public factor is the local government. The Ministry of Education cannot solve local problems from its ivory tower. Local authorities will have to find more classrooms in public buildings, in addition to what is available in school clusters, or switch to shift learning. In addition, the number of teaching hours should be considerably reduced to four 55-minute lessons per day, five days per week. The sixth day will be devoted to personal learning at home, via Zoom lessons. This will help to offset the growing shortage of teachers while ensuring that students receive the attention they need. We can also recruit help from retired Ministry of Education, youth movement instructors and national service volunteers. This may shock many, but what our education system needs is not a budget increase, but more efficiency and productivity. Avraham Fink (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)