Will Israeli elementary schools run holiday programs?

Education Minister, Finance Minister, present 'holiday school' plan for preschoolers and elementary students.

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Chana Roberts,

Schoolchildren with teacher
Schoolchildren with teacher

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) presented on Monday their plan for shortening elementary school vacations.

While the average school year is 180 days, Israeli students are in school for 220 days, making the number of school days one of the highest in the OECD. However, Israel's education ranks 24th out of 25 nations in the OECD, topping only Slovakia.

The plan includes five days of school during the Pesach (Passover) vacation during the current school year, and five days each of school during Hanukkah and Pesach vacations beginning in the coming school year (2018-2019).

The plan will run similarly to the "summer vacation school" and will include educational staff, extracurricular activities, cultural presentations, security, counselors, and the necessary equipment. It will be available for preschool children, as well as children in grades 1-3 and children in special education.

A few years ago, Israel's Education Ministry instituted "summer vacation school," in which students receive three weeks of subsidized "camp" at their school's campus. The "camp" includes educational material and recreational activities, for children in grades 1-3.

Israel's Arab and Druze sectors will receive the five days during their spring break.

Payment for the "holiday school" will be 20-30 NIS per day for those living in cities with a high socioeconomic ranking, and free for those living in towns with a low socioeconomic rating.

Parents receive 12 mandatory vacation days per year, dozens less than their children. However, instead of lobbying for additional vacation days for themselves, parents for several years have lobbied for cuts to the number of vacation days their children receive.

Caving to the pressure, Bennett promised in June to shorten school vacations claiming it "will be good for the economy, for children, and most importantly, for Israeli parents."

In July, Bennett cut seven school vacation days, eliminating the last day of Sukkot vacation and shortening both Pesach and Hanukkah vacations.