As Israelis decry the brain drain, two important strikes are happening in the Israeli education system:
- Israeli middle and high school teachers
- University professors and lecturers
Striking Teachers Demonstrate
One hundred thousand people demonstrated last night in Tel Aviv in support of secondary school teachers, who are in their 6th week of striking.
There has been little momentum by the government, who consistently refuses to consider the teachers’ demands.
Why Teachers Are Striking
Israeli teachers make an average of $17,568 per year, approximately $6,000 below the average Israeli salary of $23,616, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (2007).
Ran Erez, head of the teachers union explains:
“A university-educated teacher with 20 years’ experience today makes about 5,200 shekels (about $1,300) a month. If we divide that salary by the number of hours that a teacher works in practice, then we come to a wage that is less than that earned by a babysitter.”
The Major Issues
- Although the government has offered a 25% pay raise, teachers are obligated to work 30% more. This means that their hourly salary will actually fall
- If salary and work hours rise but the education budget remains the same, principals will have to fire teachers to compensate for the financial deficit
- Experts believe that schools will make up for the differences by hiring teachers with minimal qualifications or for part-time positions. This means that many veteran teachers will likely be forced into underemployment
- Teachers will lose job stability and professional standing
- The quality of education will fall and student learning will suffer
- Weaker populations will be the most vulnerable because they won’t have the finances to pay for outside classes and tutoring. (Consider that Israel has the highest percentage of immigrants of any country in the world– education makes us equal)
- Israel, known worldwide for its academic prowess, will lose competitive status in the global knowledge economy
- Many believe that a decrease in the level of education will jeopardize Israel’s economy in the future
Think this all sounds too dramatic? Everything I have in life and everything I wish for my children and the future of my countries boils down to intelligence and education.
Don’t gamble with education. The stakes are too high.
(Information sourced from the Jerusalem Post.)
What’s At Stake
Forty thousand teachers are striking, representing an estimated 500,000 students at 1,700 schools.
The average Israeli classroom is 40 students. Children learn from 8 am to 1 pm from Sunday to Friday.
In their 11th and 12th grade years, students take high school exit exams that determine their university entrance. Students in high school now will likely have to make up the studying time when they finish the army to account for time lost.
Also, testing in the Israeli educational system gives you three tries to pass an exam. If exams are not being held in the winter (as threatened), students will have fewer chances to succeed.
Disadvantaged populations are the most vulnerable because they won’t have the financial resources to compensate for the loss.
In related national news, Israeli university professors and lecturers have also been on strike since school started in mid-October. University students have abbreviated class schedules and are not studying full time.
The student strike last spring protesting university tuition hikes lasted 41 days.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- “Shekels for School: The Business of Education in Israel”
- “British Academics Visit Israeli Universities in the Wake of the Boycott: Reactions from Israel”
- “Master Israel with the Jewish Agency’s University Tour”
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