Some 85% of public schools in Israel are suffering from a teacher shortage just ahead of the new school year, a Knesset survey found, and most school principals believe the problem is only getting worse.
The Knesset Research and Information Center reported on Tuesday that most school principals believe that the problem has gotten worse compared to previous years.
Approximately 615 principals participated in the survey, which was conducted at the request of MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List), reflecting the teacher shortage as of July. According to the Knesset Research and Information Center's Tuesday report, over 85 percent of the principals of Jewish public schools reported some shortage of teachers. The shortage rate varies in different areas of the country, with Tel Aviv and other central regions reporting a rate of about 95 percent, while the rest of the country reported a rate closer to 75-80 percent.
The teacher shortage is more severe in schools belonging to the highest socioeconomic areas. The rate was around 93 percent for schools in which students belong to the top half of the socioeconomic scale but 55 percent for schools representing the bottom half. The rate of schools with teacher shortages among Arabic-speaking schools was even lower, between 40 percent and 55 percent.
The shortage is more severe across the board for high schools compared to elementary schools. The numbers are surprising in light of the fact that there is an excess of Israeli Arab teachers, and many of them are struggling to find work in schools. The editors of the survey note that the problem that Arab school principals point to is more likely due to the quality of the teachers, rather than the quantity of available candidates.
The Education Ministry has not tracked teacher shortages methodically, so it is hard to say whether the situation has grown worse in recent years. Around 85 percent of Hebrew-speaking principals participating in the survey said they believed the lack has only grown, while only 40 percent of the Arabic-speaking principals perceived the problem as getting worse. 42 percent of respondents said that the shortage could lead to reduced hours of instruction in some subjects.
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In response to the survey, the Education Ministry said that it is "turning over every stone in an attempt to alleviate the shortage in educators," adding that steps and actions were taken in order to reduce the number of open teaching positions from 6,000 to 2,000.
"This reduction is expected to continue as more steps and measures are taken. At this time, the ministry is required to provide specific solutions to certain schools that have manpower issues. These solutions will be given sparingly, and only after all other options are exhausted, will the goal of making sure no student's right to receive appropriate educational services will be harmed".