Although a Friday, 1 September saw Israeli students go back to school – with the school year starting smoothly for the first time in some years. A total of 2,272,000 students from grades kindergarten through 12 were back in class as the academic year for state secular and religious schools began. Most Talmudei Torah and yeshivos have already been in session for over a week, with the opening of the Elul zman.
Of the total, 163,000 children will be starting first grade, while 123,500 will be embarking on the their last year of high school studies in grade 12. Accompanying the students will be a total of 180,000 teachers, school administrators and assistants, the Education Ministry said.
For the first time in several years, all schools opened on time, with no delays due to labor-related issues. There were, however, several delays in the opening of schools: parents in Rosh Pina held back their children from elementary grades in protest over high fees charged parents for ancillary school-related expenses; parents in Migron in the Binyamin region had their children boycott classes in protest over the government’s failure to arrange for the legalization of the community’s legal status; and 1,500 children in Tel Aviv were held back as parents protested over the employment of a teacher at their children’s school.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett personally manned an Education Ministry “situation room” that operated throughout the night Thursday. “This year we have instituted smaller classes, and added classroom assistants, subsidized after-school programs, top-grade kindergarten teachers and a historic increase in the number of hours dedicated to math, science and English,” said Bennett.
“I extend my congratulations and good wishes to the principals and teachers as the school year opens. You are the backbone of our system. The system operates well today thanks to your patience, dedication, professionalism and love of country,” he added.