On Thursday, around 2.5 million pupils were scheduled to attend classes, after months of threats of a strike by teachers due to the ongoing dispute between the teachers’ union and the Finance Ministry.
The dispute had threatened to delay the beginning of the new academic year on September 1st, after a long summer holiday.
However, an agreement was reached between the two parties at the last minute, which helped avert a strike from teachers at the last minute.
Hence, kindergartners, nursery school kids, middle school, elementary school and high school kids were scheduled to return to class on September 1st, along with their instructors to mark the beginning of the school year.
Teachers, children and parents had all been on edge before the opening, as negotiations had been happening for the last few months and had not given any results.
The dispute continued till the 11th hour, as the agreement was reached the evening before schools were scheduled to open.
The new academic year
On Thursday, some 22,050 kindergartens and 5,440 schools were scheduled to open, which meant that 218,000 education workers were returning to work and 2,496,000 students were returning to class.
About 177,000 of these students will begin first grade, while 136,000 students will start their final year in high school.
The Secondary School Teachers’ Association and the Finance Ministry also reached an agreement at the 11th hour on Wednesday, which will reduce the school week to a total of five days.
In addition, it will also introduce reforms in the high school matriculation exams for humanities. The Israel Teachers’ Union had also reached a similar deal with the Treasury earlier in the day.
The union represents kindergarten, nursery and elementary school teachers. While the agreement had not been signed as yet, it would remain effective until 2026.
The agreement includes higher salaries for principals and teachers, along with performance bonuses.
Furthermore, it also changes the school vacation days for aligning the schedule of schools in a better way to help working parents.
The two sides also came to an agreement for introducing a more streamlined process to let go off staff and tenure requirements were also amended to include a three-year waiting period.
The Secondary School Teachers’ Association chief, Ran Erez stated that even though the Finance Ministry had met their demands, it was a champion in complicating matters.
Yifat Shasha-Biton, the Education Minister, said that all students would return to school and start the academic year with celebration and joy, including high school students.
Earlier in the day, the Education Minister had said that having a stable and strong education system in the country is better for the future of the children.
The dispute between the union and the Finance Ministry had been ongoing since the previous school year.
As a matter of fact, the final week had been marred by repeated strikes by the Teachers Union in their demand for better pay.
Even Prime Minister Yair Lapid had stepped in to help the negotiation process.