The Knesset Education Committee held a discussion in preparation for the start of the new school year Wednesday. The meeting was attended by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as Education Ministry Director General Shmuel Abuhav.
During the discussion, Bennett presented his main goals for the coming school year. He referred to the issue of parents' payments towards tuition, which has been criticized for being too high.
"We had to prioritize the payments this year, and I intend to demand a reduction in parents' payments in the budget discussions for 2019. We will make this one of our top priorities," Bennett said.
Bennett also made it clear that he would work to shorten student holidays. "I am in constant contact with the Finance Minister on this matter, and am very eager to provide a solution to shorten the vacation days in order to provide a remedy for parents [who cannot leave their children home while they work]. I still do not understand the [intensity of the criticism], but I will say this: I am determined. Just as we reduced class sizes and added a second teaching assistant, in the coming months we will find a solution [to this issue as well]. I gave my word and I will stand by it. We will [find a way] to satisfy the needs of the parents without harming the teachers."
The meeting was attended by parents of children in special education programs. The parents protested against what they considered to be the Education Ministry's neglect of special needs students. During the discussion, two mothers were removed from the committee room after they caused a disruption. The committee chairman rebuked the parents and told them that "those who exploit the children are the ones who bring them in front of the cameras."
Bennett dismissed claims that he his leading a 'religionization' campaign in Israeli education. "I do not see any evidence of 'religionization.' Rather, it is a strong commitment to give every child in the State of Israel a precious gift, that they should be familiar with the unique heritage of our people and our nation going back thousands of years. I want every child in Israel to know what a kiddush is, as well as what the 'Night of Bridges' is. I want them to know who Sharansky is and who the Rambam is."
MK Yaakov Margi (Shas), chairman of the committee, also referred to the issue of incitement: "The proponents of pluralism, as soon as things reach them, are horrified. Why is it that teaching about a Buddhist monk who is praying for rain is acceptable, while teaching about traditional Jewish prayers is 'religionization?' Why are there those who wish to prevent Israeli children from recognizing their own traditions?"