Education reform conference takes place in Israel
Education reformers in Israel will convene in Jerusalem on Saturday to discuss how to expand preschool education, amid calls from the government and the education ministry to create a system of public preschools that are separate from the private sector.
The conference will be held at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is considered holy by Jews and Muslims.
A number of ministers and education ministry officials are expected to attend the conference.
Israel is home to a number of privately run preschools.
The country has more than 1,000 public preschool schools and has more private preschools than any other country in the world.
Education minister Moshe Yaalon, who is expected to chair the conference, said in a statement on Saturday that his ministry would “ensure the creation of a truly independent public preschool system in the coming years.”
The ministry has proposed creating a national preschool system that would not be part of the public sector, and would be run by a private company.
Israel is also considering creating a separate preschool system for parents with religious or other objections to participating in preschools for their children.
The government has not set a timeline for the launch of a national system, which it says is “essential to meet the needs of the Israeli society and meet the demands of the needs and aspirations of the children of the nation.”
The proposal for a separate public preschool is opposed by some conservative groups, including the National Union of Jewish Women and the Yesh Atid party.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that the government will launch a national program for preschools within a year, but no official timetable has been set.
Education Minister Moshe Yogev is also a leading figure in the government’s push to expand public preschool education in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip.