2.3 Million Israeli Children Head Back to School Sunday

Road signs depicting children seen posted near pedestrian crossings, drawing driver’s attention to the crossings, ahead of the start of the academic school year, in Efrat, Gush Etzion, on Friday. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Sunday brings the official start of the school year in Israel, as 2.3 million children will enter their school buildings, many for the first time since June. Of those, some 176,000 will be entering first grade, while 131,000 will begin 12th grade, marking their last year of state-sponsored education. A total of 1,760,000 children will be attending schools in the Jewish sector, while 388,000 will attend Arab schools. 120,000 Bedouin children will attend schools in their own communities, as will 41,000 Druze children, and about 1,000 Circassian children.

The labor situation appeared stable this year, with almost no strikes by teachers or students expected Sunday. With that, a labor action in day care centers will keep some 80,000 infants at home. Students will be taught by 194,000 teachers, assistants, and administrative staff, who this year will receive more autonomy to make decisions locally on what is best for their schools, under a new program instituted this year by the Education Ministry.

Education Minister Naftali Bennet said that he intended to emphasize “the unity of Israel” as a theme in schools this year. “In recent years Israeli society has dealt with increasing division. I decided that the solution to this is to emphasize coexistence in the educational system. We must remember that debate within the family are healthy and desirable, but they must remain within the family.”