Sunday, January 25, 2009

#2 on Nat'l Agenda: Education

Hillel Fendel #2 on Nat'l Agenda: Education

A poll commissioned by the “It’s All Education” movement shows that education runs a close second to the Israeli-Arab conflict in Israelis’ perception of the national agenda.

The poll was carried out by the Geocartographic Institute for “It’s All Education,” a movement whose goal it is to advance education in Israel. Asked to grade various issues in terms of their importance, 22.1% of the respondents named the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the number-one issue. Following close behind was “education,” with 19.1%

The economic crisis and the war against traffic accidents were next, with 12.4% and 10.8%, respectively.

The problem of governmental corruption received an 8.5% rating, while the Iranian threat continues to receive little attention, with only 6.5%.

Placing Education First

The poll was conducted ahead of the “Placing Education First” seminar to be held Monday at Tel Aviv University. The leaders of Israel’s three largest parties – Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima), Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor), and Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) – will address the gathering. The three Prime Ministerial-hopefuls will speak on their respective educational visions and plans to improve Israel’s education network.

Rabbi Shai Peron, Director of “It’s All Education,” said in response to the poll, “We have received yet further support regarding the centrality of education in the public consciousness. The results place upon us a moral imperative to take the problems of our educational system seriously and deal with them firmly.”

“The fact that the Prime Ministerial candidates are willing to appear and present their educational platform,” Rabbi Peron continued, “proves the importance they attribute to this issue. I truly hope that after the elections, we will embark on a new path that will in fact place education at the top of our national agenda.”

New Horizon?

The poll also found a very low awareness rate in the public about the “New Horizon” reforms program in the educational network.

The “New Horizon” program seeks to bolster the status of teachers in Israel. According to its terms, their salaries rise by an average of 26%, while their actual classroom hours drop from 30 to 26 each week. They must, however, spend those “saved” four hours, plus an additional ten, in school - working with students, marking tests, and preparing lessons.

Over half of the respondents said they never heard of the plan, and another 21.6% said they know nothing about it. Half of those who know about it say it’s a positive development, compared to 14% who say the opposite.

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