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Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) Tuesday instructed school principals to play only Israeli music over loudspeakers to mark study breaks and to use Israeli songs more frequently in school ceremonies.

The directive comes as part of Sa'ar's efforts to promote Hebrew in the school system during the coming school year, which has been designated "Hebrew language year."

Schools have been directed to make particular use of songs by Israeli composers and songwriters about the country. Each school can make its own choice of songs, with the goal of "exposing the children from a young age to Israeli culture," ministry officials said.

About two weeks ago the Education Ministry announced that next year, classes would begin daily in elementary and junior high schools with a five-minute discussion of the sources of a Hebrew word or common mistakes.

"Public discourse is based on a meager vocabulary, numerous mistakes and difficulties in written and oral expression," Sa'ar said.

In the coming weeks a program is to be developed suitable for elementary and junior high schools to develop language skills and improve the culture of debate. The program will include "acquaintance with the linguistic heritage and history of the Hebrew culture," an official said.

MK Ilan Ghilon (Meretz) said Tuesday the use of Hebrew songs to mark breaks was "a first-class educational mistake, which will attain the opposite of its goal."