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The plan of the Ministry of Education to urgently train dismissed academics as English teachers sends "a terrible message to existing teachers," a veteran Jerusalem educator said yesterday.

"If the ministry thinks that within six months these people will be qualified to teach, it just doesn't appreciate our work. We have grown used to the disrespect of the wider public, which is not aware of how difficult it is to teach a foreign language to a class of 35, but it's a shame to see the ministry adopting the same approach," she said. Another teacher said that the plan was, "a Band-aid that's not going to resolve the lack of teachers. Instead of improving the conditions of the teachers who are already there, they're adding new instant-educators that will leave the education system as soon as they can."

The plan, first published by Haaretz on Friday, aims to turn recently dismissed workers, especially high-tech ones, into English teachers. The program is free of tuition fees (normally around NIS 12,000), and offers bursaries of up to NIS 2,000 throughout the training course. Immediately after graduation, on September 1, the 75 new teachers will begin working in schools. The starting salary for the graduates will be NIS 9,000 - much higher than presently employed English teachers.

Since the program was published by Haaretz, many veteran teachers voiced their protest. "Despite the fact the program demands a three-year commitment, it's difficult to believe they'll stay on when high-tech is attractive once again," one teacher said.

The Ministry of Education said in a statement, "The new program is aiming to recruit new quality workforce for the schools. The acknowledgment of the earlier professional experience of the new teachers, authorized by the Ministry of Finance and contributing to the higher pay, will be extended to the other teachers. The salaries will equalize in a few years' time."