Less than a week after he announced that summer vacation for students would end nearly a week earlier than usual, Education Minister Gideon Saar said on Monday that the decision had been reversed.
Saar told a news conference that he had decided to reverse his decision after the Teachers Union, which had previously agreed to the change, retracted its agreement citing various legal claims.
“My sense of responsibility forced me to change the decision,” Saar said. The only way to make the change take force in the next school year is to decide on it within the present school year, he explained, and "since new legal issues have been raised, I have regretfully decided to announce that the next school year will begin on September 1.”
Saar added that “shortening the summer break was a step in a series of moves designed to change the education system. This was not the main move, but was one which we still wanted to implement. I came to the Ministry of Education to work; I did not come to pass the time.”
Saar’s decision was made after a meeting with the Teachers Union Secretary General, Yossi Wasserman. During the meeting, Wasserman informed Saar that the union had some reservations over the decision despite previously having agreed to it. The reservations are likely related to the fact that the lost days of the summer break would not be returned to the teachers. Under a collective agreement signed with the teachers, they are entitled to a certain number of days off per year.
The original decision, as reported last week, would have seen the Ministry of Education adopting the recommendations of a committee which was established to examine the structure of the school year. Under the new system, the school year would have begun on August 26 instead of September 1, while the other vacations during the school year would be extended by five days.
The decision will likely only be implemented in 2012.