Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel's educational system has been in trouble for a long time. He told a conference organized by the newspaper Globes in Tel Aviv that it would be possible to improve education with additional budgets, but that can only occur when there is economic growth.

"It is important to provide every student the ability to achieve [his potential]," Netanyahu said, speaking of the need to provide all students, regardless of their background, the necessary tools for educational development. He spoke of the need to include various populations - such as Haredim, Arabs and Druze - within the educational system.

"The managerial problem [for schools] is no less critical. It is possible to invest a lot of money and still not succeed," the prime minister said. "The proper mix of budget, management and technology is the key to educational progress."

"There is a clear relationship between investment in education and Israel's success," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told the conference. "The country's future is in its human capital. This is clear from the recent achievements we have seen in science, which are the result of past investments in education."

However, Sa'ar said the OECD's recent report, Education at a Glance, "reflects a sorry picture at every stage of Israeli education. The investment in every one of these stages is significantly less than the average in OECD nations. For example, it turns out that Israeli teachers earn about 40 percent of the international average salary."

"We must continue to expand the process of raising teachers' pay," he added. "Rebuilding the ethos of teaching needs to be the top priority."

The principal of the Gymnasia Herzliya high school in Tel Aviv, Dr. Zeev Degani, said yesterday in response: "There are many examples of schools whose students have reached high levels of achievement, despite heavy criticism against their principals. The difficult and more fundamental problem is that nothing in the educational system is tested in depth over the long term. Education ministers change every few years - and with them the reforms, plans and agendas also change."