PM Netanyahu: We are really giving Israeli children the chance to realize their dreams, and to realize our national goal, our national goals as a progressive state at the forefront of science, technology and economics – this is education.

 Cabinet communique


Israel Cabinet meeting (Reuters archive photo)

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

At the weekly Cabinet Meeting today (Sunday, 26 August 2012):

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Saar made the following remarks:

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Good morning. Hello to all the first graders. This is what Israeli children who are starting the 2012-2013 school year will hear tomorrow. Each one of us remembers this exciting day. I remember it, with my book bag, pencil case and empty notebooks. Today, the technology has changed a little, but the excitement is the same, the children’s great excitement, and that of the parents, teachers and principals as well.

I wish all Israeli children a successful year. For the first graders, this day will be unforgettable. They will remember it throughout their lives. But this year, just in case you did not know, we are starting it with something new and that is free education from age 3 until 4. During ages 3-4, they will learn for free, something which we dreamed about for 64 years and spoke about for decades with a non-existent law. We are honoring this law and investing in it.

We are changing the face of education in Israel. Starting early, we have built approximately 900 new nursery schools and kindergartens. Education Minister Gideon Saar and I visited one a few days ago, in Rehovot. I met an adorable little boy there named Barak. He decided that same day that he wanted to be a doctor. I wish that he and the 270,000 other children like him should realize their potential because we are really giving them the chance to realize their dreams, and to realize our national goal, our national goals as a progressive state at the forefront of science, technology and economics – this is education.

I also remind you that we are talking about an NIS 800 savings for every child, every month. This is a great savings for families. Not only is this our contribution or investment in our children’s future – we are doing so at a time when the economies of the world are shrinking, and I know that this is the best investment that we can make in our children’s future. I wish good luck to Israel’s children and good luck to the little children who are starting nursery school at age 3, good luck to the first graders, good luck to all. Gideon, if you please."

Education Minister Saar: "Mr. Prime Minister, I hope that tomorrow we, all Israelis, will experience the fourth school year in a row that, like the previous three, has opened smoothly, in the best way possible, and the emphasis is on the fact that you have led an easing of the burden on parents, which has found expression both in the initiative for free education for ages 3-4 that you mentioned, but also in the afternoon daycare that we will open, starting in the weaker local council areas, the subsidies of annual class trips and the dramatic expansion of the borrowing of text books.

Each of these saves hundreds of shekels a month for families, or, to be more precise, hundreds of shekels a year for families. A little less in the afternoon daycare, and in the step that we will take in a few days on the issue of youth movements, with the strengthening of youth movements in the periphery, all are part of the same initiative of easing the burden on parents.

The education system is undergoing very deep changes related to the reforms that we are leading on all age levels. I believe that if we continue this way – both with investments and policy directions – in another decade, Israel will be among the leading countries of the world in terms of education systems. I absolutely believe that this is possible and achievable, and we will do it."

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Thank you. I would like to add something on behalf of all ministers and all Israelis. Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to set foot on the moon, has passed away. I think that Armstrong, with what he did, symbolized the spirit of human curiosity, humanity’s will to break through barriers, to understand the secrets of the universe, to understand the infinity of space and time and the significance of our universe in that infinity. I do not think that many people have had the privilege of taking such a far-reaching step. There are those who reached new continents and crossed new oceans, but this was the first time that a human being set foot on another world. This was a breakthrough that will forever stand in the annals of human history. I also esteem the man – he was very modest and understood the greatness of the moment. It is very likely that the greatness of the moment gave him a lifelong perspective that must certainly serve us as well. On behalf of myself and all Israelis, I would like to convey the foregoing appreciation to the Armstrong family."

2. Education Minister Saar and Education Ministry Director-General Dalit Stauber briefed the Cabinet on the Ministry’s preparations ahead of the opening of the 2012-2013 school year.

3. The Government ascribes great importance to increasing the supply of trained personnel in various high-tech tracks both as a tool to strengthen the high-tech sector and as a central component in creating the conditions for the continued prosperity of the Israeli economy. To these ends, the Cabinet decided to adopt the main points of the inter-ministerial report, led by the National Economic Council, on the issue of the shortage of trained personnel in the high-tech sector.