Israel Freezes Education Budget After Lottery Funds Fail to Arrive

The Finance Ministry’s decision comes after the national lottery, which funds some of the country’s new classrooms, delayed a $135 million payment

FILE Photo: A kindergarten in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Tomer Appelbaum

In an unprecedent move, the Finance Ministry has frozen Israel’s education budget until further notice due to concerns that the Education Ministry will be heading into a deficit, sources told TheMarker.

As a result, children may see shortfalls at school in the next few days as payments fall in a series of areas: aides’ salaries at preschools and in special education, enrichment programs, after-school programs, and the construction and renovation of schools. Also at risk are ministry programs such as those for increasing the number of high schoolers studying the highest levels of math and English.

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The payment of teachers’ salaries is not expected to be affected.

The Finance Ministry’s decision came after national lottery Mifal Hapayis, which is responsible for funding some of the country’s new classrooms, delayed a 500-million-shekel ($135 million) payment for classrooms that have already been built.

The Education Ministry has been working on building 17,000 new classrooms at a budget of 17 billion shekels over the next five years. The program also includes the renovation of schools and is being funded mostly with state money, some of it from Mifal Hapayis.

“Due to the delay in receiving money, the Education Ministry cannot meet all its obligations,” the Finance Ministry said.