Israel's Education Ministry to Toughen 'Irresponsible' Requirements for Preschool Subs

Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Shira Kadari-Ovadia
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A teacher writes on the board during a maths exam at a school in central Israel. Illustration
A teacher writes on the board during a maths exam at a school in central Israel. Illustration Credit: Ilan Assayag
Shira Kadari-Ovadia
Shira Kadari-Ovadia

The Education Ministry has announced that it will tighten the hiring process for substitute preschool teachers after a Haaretz investigation indicated that there is no need for training or an interview for the position. 

Two months ago, a discussion in the Knesset Education Committee was held on the matter.

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Sonia Peretz, who is in charge of human resources in the ministry, said that they recently recruited workers to interview the candidates for substitute teaching. She said that the change was supposed to begin in the past school year, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus, and will begin soon.

The Haaretz investigation demonstrated the ease of becoming a substitute in the preschools. A ministry pilot program enables private franchises to operate pools for substitute teachers. The threshold conditions are 12 years of schooling and no criminal background – with no interview or training required. The job requirements: “To maintain order, demonstrate responsibility and keep the children busy according to the directives of the school and the preschool.”

The nursery school teachers are aware of the lack of supervision of the quality of the substitutes. “Do you have a pulse? You can be a substitute,” said one teacher. “That’s the level of the manpower shortage.” Due to this situation the regular teachers sometimes work even when they are ill. Another preschool teacher remarked: “There’s no supervision. As long as the day passed peacefully and there was no accident, God forbid, nobody will do anything.”

A mother said that the parents don’t know who’s in charge of their children. “It’s hard to believe that there’s such irresponsibility. Never mind a violent person or a pedophile, it’s enough if it’s someone who doesn’t know how to deal with children’s sensitivities.”

The state comptroller, in a 2019 report: There’s a need for appropriate preconditions such as a teaching certificate, education and some experience in education or counseling.”

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