Ethiopian children - Tal Cohen - Sept. 30, 2010
Ethiopian-Israeli children in school. Photo by Tal Cohen
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About 7,500 kindergartens will join the New Horizon education reform in the next school year, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said yesterday at a meeting with local authority heads.

The minister said all state elementary schools will be part of the reform next year.

The New Horizon reform was introduced in some 900 of the 8,600 kindergartens operating in Israel this school year. As a result the children’s stay in the kindergarten has been extended by some 45 minutes ‏(from 7:55 A.M. to 2 P.M. on Sundays to Thursdays and until 12:45 P.M. on Friday‏) and the teachers have received a 16 percent pay raise. A new teacher in a reform kindergarten earns NIS 5,380 a month.

The kindergartens reform consists of formulating an annual work program and working with smaller groups of children, Sa’ar said. He said his ministry is discussing taking over the responsibility for pedagogic day-care centers from the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry.

In another development, the Education Ministry is examining ways to increase financial assistance to students going on trips to Poland, he said. The ministry, which gives NIS 5 million in grants, is considering subsidizing the trip for a large number of students on a socioeconomic scale, he said.

In recent years about 25,000 students have traveled to Poland at an estimated cost of more than NIS 5,000 each.

Sa’ar said the ministry is in final negotiations with the high-school teachers’ union over joining the reform. “The Finance Ministry is ready for an overall wage increment of over 50 percent as part of an agreement,” Sa’ar said.

“I’m not sure we’ll reach an agreement, but we’re making every effort to do so,” he said.

Expanding the reform to junior high, where classes are taught by members of both teachers union and Teachers’ Federation, depends on an agreement with the high-school teachers union.