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The principals of elementary schools implementing the New Horizon program are critical of an Education Ministry decision to inspect its implementation through an external body. The inspection, say the principals, involves filling in forms and a great deal of red tape and is being carried out by a private firm that won the tender for the job.

In tandem with the critics, the principals' group in the Teachers' Union instructed their members not to fill the forms sent to their schools.

The New Horizon program includes, as one of its reforms, what is known as "individual hours of learning," and during the current school year some 1,300 schools instituted it. Each teacher must commit to devoting five hours each week to working with a small group of pupils, of not more than five children.

A principal of an elementary school in central Israel said the company in charge of the inspection recently distributed "a great number of forms, which go into the smallest details of running the individual hours of learning. The questionnaires are complicated and put a great deal of pressure on the principals."

But it's not the "form-culture" provoking anger, says the source, as much as the fact the principals are anyway required to provide the ministry with the information. "What's the point of having to provide the same information twice? Isn't it better to invest the money going to the private firm and other external inspection bodies in education?"

The inspection tender won by the private firm Eshed is estimated at NIS 1.3 million.

The Education Ministry issued a statement that the principals have been instructed to fill out the forms and stressed the issue is not that the ministry doesn't trust the faculty but it is responsible to ensure policy is implemented.