At the start of the coronavirus crisis, Israel was rightfully filled with various gestures and shows of appreciation for the medical workers who shouldered, and still shoulder, the battle against COVID-19. In those early days, I watched these gestures, and even then asked myself why our educators—who are also on the front lines, doing important work for the sake of our children—weren’t shown similar appreciation. I wasn’t the education minister at the time, but today, as one who had the privilege of leading the Israeli public-school system, I have decided to do everything in my power so that teachers in Israel are given the public status they deserve.
Excitedly, and with a great sense of devotion, the 2020-21 school year opened on Tuesday. Nursery school teachers, upper-grade teachers and principals showed up at thousands of schools nationwide, in every sector, and once again took on with love the mission that is so important to creating real power for Israel—nurturing our children.
Our children’s education has an influence on every area of life. The values a child is taught determine what kind of adult he or she will be. The tools we give them in school will serve as a basis for their ability to continue to learn and become good, involved citizens.
The Zionist movement does not have a prominent enough place in the current curriculum. Zionism is what created the most meaningful change in the history of the Jewish people after the destruction of the Second Temple; it is what led to the founding of Israel and the creation of its defender, the Israel Defense Forces. The history of Zionist activity and the values it represents—love of the land and the people, the importance and uniqueness of the IDF (including enlistment and service)—will now play a bigger role in educational activity.
In addition, I intend to empower school principals and provide them tools that will allow them more management and pedagogical flexibility. I believe in them. They, who become administrators after years of teaching, must be allowed more independence in making decisions, and have the resources and authority to lead the schools of which they are in charge to new heights.
I have great faith in the children of Israel and in giving everyone opportunities. A child who dreams of success deserves to receive everything we can give to help him or her. Together, in a sense of partnership and unity, we will do everything to ensure that every child is given the necessary tools he/she needs to flourish, develop and succeed. This is our mission—and we are excited.
Yoav Gallant is Israel’s Education Minister.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.