News & Events

Closing Gaps and Promoting Equal Opportunities in Education in Israel

The fellows of Cohort 25 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership presented the products of their Group Exercise in the presence of the director general of Israel's Ministry of Education and the leadership of the Mandel Foundation

Cohort 25 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership presented the main policy recommendations, the products of three intensive weeks of work on the Group Exercise, at an event held at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership on January 29. The event was attended by Mr. Shmuel Abuav, director general of Israel's Ministry of Education; Professor Jehuda Reinharz, president of the Mandel Foundation, Mr. Stephen Hoffman, vice chairman of the Mandel Foundation, and Mr. Moshe Vigdor, director general of the Mandel Foundation–Israel.
"The group exercise is a central element in our program of study," said Danny Bar Giora, director of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. "It enables fellows to encounter and address a real issue from the field that is of concern to the education system," he continued. "I am full of admiration for the way you, the fellows of Cohort 25, handled this challenge, for the learning process you underwent, and for your dedication to the task."

"The group exercise attests to the longstanding and deep professional relationship we have with the Ministry of Education," said Professor Jehuda Reinharz, president of the Mandel Foundation. "Every year, the subject for the group exercise is chosen by the leadership of the Ministry, thus giving the fellows an opportunity to study and understand in depth an issue that is currently on the agenda of the leaders of the education system, and to make a contribution to the system by presenting a summary document that includes recommendations for action," he said.

Closing Gaps and Promoting Equal Opportunities in Education

As part of the exercise, the 21 fellows of Cohort 25 devoted three weeks of intensive work to the issue of gaps in Israeli education. The document produced by the fellows was based on extensive studies that have been conducted in each of the relevant fields, and presented three recommendations for generating change and making a significant contribution to reducing gaps in the Israeli education system.

The first recommendation seeks to improve the quality of teaching in disadvantaged schools by defining teaching in these schools as a distinct professionalization that requires special training. This training encompasses three principal fields: the emotional domain, which involves the development of empathy and acceptance; the social domain, in which teachers learn to view students within their social, cultural, and familial contexts; and the pedagogical domain, which includes the use of critical pedagogy that pays particular attention to the cultural context of the individual, one-on-one teaching, remedial teaching, and dealing with learning disabilities.

The second recommendation seeks to set up "Family Learning Centers" that would offer a range of content for parents and children and encourage parents to see themselves as learning and developing individuals, in order to promote continued development and education of parents, and as a result, their involvement in their children's education.

Closing Gaps and Promoting Equal Opportunities in Education

The third recommendation is to leverage the planned Early Childhood Council to function as a meaningful body with practical impact. This recommendation highlights the importance of early childhood (birth to three years) as a critical period in children’s development. According to this recommendation, the Early Childhood Council now in formation would act as an interdisciplinary mechanism to regulate all solutions and responses relevant to this age group.

Mr. Shmuel Abuav, the director general of Israel's Ministry of Education, responded to the presentation: "The three proposals you put forward are three components that have real value and meaning. Why? Firstly, because the relationship between teacher and student, the faith, and the ability to inculcate students with the path to achievement, all depend, in the end, on the interaction between teacher and student. Your second recommendation, which was very insightful, stresses the family element. All research indicates that the family is the key arena associated with academic achievement, motivation, and support for the student in their learning and development. Your third suggestion, to start everything in early childhood, is entirely correct," said Abuav. 

Read the Summary of Findings and Recommendations (Hebrew) >>