Education Ministry to Shorten Summer Vacation, Subsidize Day Camp

One goal is to help working parents find - and finance - care for young children during the 2-month summer school break.

Education Minister Shay Piron is expected to announce Thursday a program to shorten the summer vacation for elementary schoolchildren. What it boils down to, however, is a ministry plan to subsidize day camp in July for kindergarten and elementary-school students.

The camps will be run by nonprofit organizations, youth groups and possibly retirees. At this point it isn’t clear whether teachers will be allowed - or would want - to be involved, and whether they would be paid more if they participate.

In the past teachers’ unions have vehemently opposed Piron’s proposals to get them to work during the summer.

One of the goals behind the program is to ease the difficulty faced by working parents in finding - and paying for - supervision and activities for their young children during the two-month summer vacation.

Parents will presumably pay for the program, although a sliding-fee scale based on ability to pay is considered likely. Participation will not be mandatory.
Teachers Union secretary general Yossi Wasserman, who represents the elementary school teachers, says he has told Piron he had no objection to keeping pupils occupied in July, but cautioned that “It absolutely may not impinge on the teachers’ vacation. Any teacher who wants to participate must be allowed to do so of their own free will.”

The ministry is also expected to make an announcement shortly about a new strategic plan that includes reducing the number of matriculation exams and administering them only in the 11th and 12th grades.