New Ministry Chief Pledges to Avoid Conflict of Interest

To avoid a conflict of interest, the new director general of the Education Ministry, Shimshon Shoshani, has agreed to refrain for two years from involvement in his ministry's relationship with the Center for Educational Technology, a nongovernmental organization that promotes education in Israel and in Jewish communities abroad. Shoshani was chairman of the center from 2007 until last month, prior to his appointment to the ministry. The terms of the agreement were signed before Shoshani assumed his new post and were filed with the Civil Service Commission.

The Center for Educational Technology is considered a major force in Israel's education system. Its textbooks are used by 700,000 students a year. The center also develops performance evaluation materials for schools and local authorities and continuing education resources for principals and teachers. The nonprofit organization was founded with the support of the Rothschild Foundation. Its funding comes largely from the sale of educational materials and services, including services provided to the Education Ministry. The close relationship between the center and the ministry has come in for criticism in the past by figures in the field of education.

In addition to agreeing not to engage directly in the ministry's relationship with the center, Shoshani also undertook not to be involved in an educational leadership institute the ministry established two years ago with the Rothschild Foundation. He also agreed not to be involved with the ministry's contact with the WIZO Academy of Design and Education in Haifa for two years. Shoshani also served on the board of that institution.

The agreement also provides that Shoshani will not be involved for his first year at the Education Ministry with the ministry's contacts with other organizations in which he was involved including the Keren Karev foundation and the Birthright program. Shoshani also committed to consult with the ministry's legal advisor with regard to any issues which arise regarding potential conflicts of interest, with the provision that matters involving a potential conflict would be handled by the ministry's deputy director general.