Sa’ar unveils emergency plan on education

New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar outlined his party’s plan for revamping the education system at an online press conference on Sunday.Sa’ar said that in any government he would form, he would keep the Education portfolio for his party and give it to his number two, MK Yifat Shasha Biton, an educator with a doctorate in education from the University of Haifa, who headed the education department as deputy mayor of Kiryat Shmona and served as vice president of Ohalo, a teacher training college in Katzrin. “In the coronavirus crisis, the government failed at educating and protecting our children,” Sa’ar said. “Education must be based on long-term planning and a thought out worldview. The current government handled education as an afterthought, off the cuff. That is how parents and children are treated by a government that sees its citizens as their mere subjects.”The plan focuses on reducing educational and learning gaps and providing emotional and social support to students. Its starting point is that children need learning, companionship and emotional support and the government must provide answers to overcome the hardships created over the past year. “We will place an emphasis on the emotional, ethical and social aspects of education as key to the infrastructure for optimal learning, ensuring that our schools provide a fully comprehensive education,” the plan says. “The change will include strengthening the focus on educational counselling standards, social activities, trips, cultural events, integrating youth movements and organizations, and more.”New Hope will work to ensure autonomy is given to school principals. It will allow principals to make use of the allocation of teaching hours for the benefit of the unique needs of their schools, and will pass a flexible budget for use for the needs of the students.”The vast education system as it stands, is not succeeding to meet the needs of the individual student,” the plan says. “Accordingly, when we find ourselves in a situation whereby our children are sitting at home for months on end, these needs are only mounting up. We will relate to each and every student personally, providing them with social meetings and effective learning through the required course of teaching in small groups.”  

The party vowed to work to overcome the learning gaps, with an emphasis on reading and writing for grades 1-3, in order to prevent future developmental delays.
In addition to advancing education for all ages, New Hope would ensure that children who require special assistance, are given a swift, effective, and personalized response.”We will implement support and catch-up classes for children, even during times when schools are closed, in accordance with the guidelines, in groups of up to five pupils,” the plan said. New Hope promised to recruit teachers, providing them with a respectable, fitting salary to teach during the summer vacation to help bridge the gaps for all Israeli students, in cooperation with the teachers’ organizations. Teachers who choose to do so would be able to enlist for one to one and a half months of teaching during the summer months, to receive appropriate compensation The plan would also ensure that a long-term response is given to high school students so that they can integrate into higher education in the best way despite the matriculation challenges caused by the pandemic.”We will save the lost school year of high school students: 11th-12th of this year and 12th of last year,” the plan said. “These students were deeply affected by the corona crisis and will be aided by intensive bridge programs to continue their higher education.”

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