On Sunday, the Education Ministry in Israel revealed that there were more than 5,600 teaching positions that were vacant, just ahead of the beginning of the school year. Moreover, there are also ongoing threats of teachers going on strike before the new school session begins on September 1st.
Shortage in Tel Aviv and central Israel
Central Israel and Tel Aviv are the two areas that have the highest shortage, as the data from the Education Ministry shows that there are almost 3,500 unfilled positions in schools in these areas. As for other regions, the shortages in staff are in the hundreds.
According to the ministry’s data, there is a shortfall of 250 science teachers and 424 English teachers in elementary schools, while kindergartens and special education schools have a shortage of about 1,103 workers. As far as unfilled science positions are concerned, they are close to 460.
Moreover, data also showed that more teachers have left their jobs in the previous years, as opposed to earlier years. There was also a drop in the number of college students who pursue teaching degrees. This number had stood at 13,500 in the academic year of 2020-2021, but the following year saw this number come down to 11,400.
In March, the Central Bureau of Statistics also published data, which showed that new teachers’ numbers had seen a 12% drop in the past school year.
Israel’s subsidized daycare centers also spoke out on Sunday and threatened to not reopen for the upcoming school year. They accused the state of preschool education neglect. Children between the ages of 3 months and 3 years are placed in daycare services regulated by the state in Israel.
Nonprofit organizations operate these centers under the supervision of the government and the state subsidizes them. A monthly sum is contributed by parents, depending on their income, which is usually between NIS 1,000 and NIS 2,000.
Since they have limited space, they give priority to parents who belong to a lower socioeconomic level. The warning from the operating groups said that staffing shortages would prevent them from reopening. Plus, they would also have to charge higher fees from parents because the Finance Ministry recently recommended that their subsidies be reduced.
The Teachers Union in Israel had conducted a nationwide strike in the previous month, as a salary agreement could not be made with the Finance Ministry. A spokesperson for the union said that the Ministry is not offering more than NIS 8,600 in salaries for new teachers and are only offering a small raise for experienced ones.
The union has demanded that a salary of NIS 10,500 be paid to new teachers and give experienced teachers a meaningful increase. Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Minister, agreed that new teachers should be paid more, but wants to change the way teachers take their vacations to facilitate parents, so they do not have to leave their children for more working days because of no school. The negotiations between the union and the ministry have stalled.