NGO Heads Meeting With Likud Over New Education Reforms

Over the past few weeks, the heads of a nongovernmental organization have been meeting with senior Likud officials to compile a list of far-reaching reforms to state schools.

The organization, Hakol Chinuch ("All about education"), headed by Rabbi Shai Piron, recommended forming an education cabinet headed by the prime minister, defining six core academic subjects for all branches of the system, improving teacher training and changing the way school budgets are funded.

Some of the meetings were attended by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu. The recommendations are supported by businessman and philanthropist Dov Lautman and by Shlomo Dovrat, who headed the Dovrat Committee for education reform.

According to the proposal, a committee of education experts, headed by the director general of the Prime Minister's Office, would work with education cabinet. This committee would include leading experts in the field of education, as well as senior officials from the various ministries.

The education cabinet would submit a five-year plan to all the cabinet ministers for their approval. This plan aims to improve scholastic achievements, promote educational values, reduce the gaps between students and student groups and improve the atmosphere at schools.

The proposed plan bears no mention of the New Horizons plan, which incumbent education minister, Yuli Tamir, promoted in elementary schools and junior high schools. But Hakol Chinuch members say they will maintain the principle of continuity.

Another proposal refers to the "core plan," which the Education Ministry has been unsuccessful in imposing on ultra-Orthodox schools. The organization's experts propose full state funding in exchange for making six subjects (math, science, English, Hebrew, heritage and civic studies) mandatory in all religious schools.

The proposal on the ultra-Orthodox branch offers to make the six core subjects account for 70 percent of the curriculum, allowing schools scholastic autonomy in the remaining 30 percent.