(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the meeting of the Cabinet for Strengthening Haifa and the North, this morning (Tuesday), 3 October 2006:

The Cabinet for Strengthening Haifa and the North approved Education Minister Yuli Tamir’s plan to strengthen the education system in the Haifa and the north. The plan will also be implemented equally in Sderot and in the greater Gaza Strip area communities, and amount to NIS 360 million. Together with investments by external budgetary sources the plan will amount to approximately NIS 700 million.

In addition, ministers approved dividing first and second grades in the areas designated for the plan’s implementation, so that 40,000 pupils will learn in smaller classes during part of the week. The Ministry of Education will make a concentrated effort to support 50 schools that are in need of broad intervention, build 350 classrooms and kindergartens, improve the study environment in several hundred additional schools and will assist parents by lowering fees and by supporting book borrowing projects.  

At the start of the meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "Education stands as the highest priority of the Government’s plan – this was evident in the passing of the budget and in the Plan for Strengthening Haifa and the North. In the budgetary framework, NIS 360 million was allocated to strengthen education in the north, and as can be argued, this points to a change in the education system in the north."

Chief coordinator for rehabilitating northern infrastructures Amos Yaron informed ministers that all but 20 of the 140 families whose homes were hardest hit have reached compensation agreements with the tax authorities. Employees from the authority established by Yaron are in direct contact with each of the families that were forced to abandon their homes. Of these families, 72 are in hotels or guest houses paid by the Government, compared to 88 families a week ago.