While many schools in Israel can boast academic achievements, a comprehensive, system-wide strategy is lacking. It’s easy to measure education in quantity – number of schools, academic degrees, etc. – but measuring the quality of education is more difficult. Sporadic successes won’t lead to Israel being placed among countries that provide the best education.
Comprehensive strategic moves are required to prepare our children for the world of tomorrow. Accelerating globalization, demographic trends, changes in economies and labor markets require new approaches. The transformation has to begin with legislation and educational law needs to be a single-core program in tune with the times.
Actual reforms have to focus on issues such as teacher training and compensation –increasing pay and benefits would help attract the right people to the teaching profession instead of losing them to private institutions that pay more.
Other ways to bring about improvements would be to change the way children study and what they study. Another area that could do with improvement is the way in which they are assessed.
There is no shortage of possible explanations about why the educational system in Israel is so underwhelming considering how much it is reliant on technical innovation. Discipline problems, crowded classrooms and the qualitative level of teachers are just some of the reasons given.
Israel’s complex, multi-cultural society creates a big challenge when it comes to a comprehensive public education system. Children must be prepared to be responsible members of a society where people from various religious, ethnic, religious, political and cultural backgrounds co-exist.
Many youngsters from other cultural backgrounds have been absorbed into the school population, creating a demand for more teachers, classrooms, methods and special tools.
Learning has to become multidisciplinary and problem-focused. Extensive use needs to be made of technological tools required in the modern work world, enabling quick access to information and processes. Children should be able to help choose content and understand its context to avoid feeling as though what they are learning is redundant.
Making use of online courses free trials can help students experience the flexibility of online learning and get a feel for what it’s like to do self-paced learning. They can take courses that suit their learning habits too, such as those specifically designed for visual learners.
There is no doubt that many teachers are well qualified and choose their profession for good reasons but this not true of all teachers. If many of them are below the general level expected by universities, how are they expected to bring Israeli children to the level they need for acceptance and success at universities?
The training of teachers has to be of a high academic level, including both theory but practical application too.
After training, teachers should be able to receive ongoing professional support from the institute at which they trained as well as from their peers. Their professional development should be ongoing, in the form of teamwork, independent research and specialization studies. Their remuneration should reflect this, making teaching a well-respected, coveted profession.
The curricula and examinations
The curricula need to include subjects that develop skills and capabilities for the future, such as basic programming, technology, civil equality, social and community engagement.
Assessments should involve both individual and group projects that reflect thinking abilities, creativity, teamwork, resourcefulness, the capacity for transmitting knowledge and emotional intelligence.
Changing the way Israel trains and pays teachers, introducing a uniform core curriculum, and reforming how the system operates on a fundamental level, would contribute to creating a comprehensive reform of the education system in Israel.