Principals Share Training Course With Industrialists

The principal of ORT Holon high school, Shula Manor, graduated a few weeks ago from the Israel Management Center (IMC) directors course, together with industrialists, businesspeople and four other principals.

"We already know the education world. We wanted to find new content and additional enrichment sources," Manor says.

Like the Education Ministry officials who sent her to the course, Manor believes the link between the business and education worlds is beneficial. Other principals and educators are less convinced. "I came to school to be a pedagogue, not a businessman," a principal from the central region says.

The directors course consisted of six eight-hour meetings. The participants learned about "the managers' duties and powers," "the managers' civic and criminal responsibility," "financial and legal aspects of profit distribution" and "business strategy."

"Today's principals must be much more than pedagogues. They must have an understanding of construction, financial management, keeping a balanced budget and competing with other schools," says Manor, who won the the ORT schools' outstanding principal award this year.

"We're an educational organization, but that does not mean we shouldn't be familiar with the business world."

The link between business and education has expanded in recent years, a fact reflected not only in private organizations' financial contributions, but also in invitations to businesspeople to take part in shaping education policy. Ex-education minister Limor Livnat put Shlomo Dovrat at the head of the committee tasked with reforming the education system. The Manufacturers' Association is urging Education Minister Yuli Tamir to change technological study programs.

The main message is that the business world could rescue the education system from its troubles, if the latter only adopted the "correct" management methods and organizational ideas.

Perhaps this is why Education Ministry Director-general Shlomit Amihai sponsored the program's first class' graduation ceremony some two weeks ago. Education Ministry officials talk about mutual learning but the balance of power is clearly in favor of the rich.

"The project is designed to bring the added value of an industry manager to school principals," says Orad CEO Ariel Adoram, who took part in the program.

Part of the directors course dealt with marketing and advertising. "Some schools are willing to do anything to advertise themselves," says Manor. "You have to know this world to decide where you're going. It's no shame to learn a new way of thinking. For example, we invited startup people to our biomedical classes. The pupils were fascinated. They learned what a business program was, and their eyes shone. It was amazing. It's a language the school should learn."

The ORT principal adds: "School is not an archaic institution. Pupils should know how to save, not only study about Herod."

Asked about values, she says that "the pupils learn to listen to each other, to work as a team, to plan a project and to perform. We don't talk about money but about creating Israel's future."

The Education Ministry's Tel Aviv district manager, Orly Fruman, says: "School is not a business, but management principles and the subjects a manager deals with are constantly evolving."

Fruman adds that "the interface with industry, financial and legal issues and the relations of managers with a CEO are relevant to us, too. The course graduates must now apply what they learned to the education system," she says.

Manor intends to adopt a few ideas from the course. "I can take business models and adapt them to the education system," says Manor.

"The business world is based on different principles, but the same management," says Irit Aharonson, principal of Kiryat Sharet High School in Holon.