Education Ministry Urges Israeli Teachers to Stay in Touch With Kids Over Summer Break

Teachers oppose plans to make such outreach mandatory.

Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop

Education Minister Shay Piron urged teachers to keep regular contacts with their students during the summer vacation that began Monday. Some 900,000 elementary school pupils and 400,000 kindergarten children joined the high school and junior-high school students who began their vacation on June 21.

On his Facebook page, Piron asked on Sunday if it makes sense that “after ten months of personal contact, close and deep accompaniment and developing a culture of discourse, these relations will be severed for two full months? All of a sudden, on the 20th or 30th? A letter perhaps, an SMS? A sign of life that everything is fine, that there are no special problems?”

The education minister added that “children share their distress and hopes, call for help and advice, and then when they school year ends they hear ‘see you next year.’ Will they regain the children’s trust? This isn’t a demand. I have no intention of requesting the teachers to work during their vacation, and I would not wish to violate agreements, contracts or regulation. Still, the question stands.”

This message was accompanied by a column in Yedioth Ahronoth, and identical messages were conveyed through the minister’s and ministry director-general’s letter to school principals. These letters included a passage in bold letters, saying that “many teachers initiate contacts with the students during the vacation. This move strengthens the ties within the educational institution and improves the atmosphere in school − every teacher is free to initiate such contacts according to his discretion.”

The minister and director general tried to make such contacts mandatory a month ago, but failed due to opposition by teacher’s unions.

The teacher’s unions insist that the summer vacation is, indeed, a time for vacation. Union chairman Yossi Wasserman was surprised to discover Piron’s message on the social network. “I have no objection to any teacher who personally decides to do so, but one can’t expect teachers to keep in contact with dozens or hundreds of students. We have advised teachers and kindergarten teachers that according to the collective agreements every worker − including teachers − has the right to a vacation with their families, with his own children.”

Students on summer break.Credit: Nir Kafri

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