There have been several attempts at comprehensive reform of the Israeli education system, and several master plans have been drafted. This discussion group is examining what these attempts have to teach us about the importance of planning and whether it can be implemented, and whether planning processes should be a fixed element of the Education Ministry’s work, with the inclusion of professionals and academics. The group will meet once every four to six weeks, for a total of eight sessions.
The opening session dealt with the first reform of the education system, introduced by Minister Zalman Aran, which revamped the structure of the system by introducing junior high schools. The subject was introduced by Eliezer Shmueli, who was Aran’s aide at the time and subsequently served in various positions in the ministry, including director general. After him, Elad Peled contributed from his experience as the director general who supervised the implementation of the first stages of that reform.
The second meeting will deal with “Planning Education for the 1980s,” a project conducted in the early 1970s at the initiative of the aforementioned Elad Peled. Many teams were involved in it, each with its own brief. Peled summed up their work in the report he wrote at its conclusion. He will share with us his knowledge and his conclusions from this experience. Yuval Dror, a lecturer in the School of Education at Tel Aviv University, will offer his take on the subject.
The third session will be devoted to the National Taskforce on Education, established by Education Minister Limor Livnat and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That group, under the chairmanship of Shlomo Dovrat, examined broad aspects of the education system. Dovrat will lead the meeting and talk about the work of his taskforce. Dan Inbar will review the implications of the Dovrat Report on the education system.
The fourth session will examine other proposals for comprehensive changes in the education system. Shimshon Shoshani and David Chen will present the documents they had submitted to education ministers in the past.
At the fifth and sixth meetings we will consider efforts around the world to introduce comprehensive reforms to the education system. Ami Volansky will survey the general background of international reforms, followed by close look at New Zealand, the Australian state of Victoria, Sweden, Ontario (Canada), and Poland. The specific topics have yet to be determined and will be influenced in part by the availability of appropriate guest lecturers.
The seventh and eighth sessions will deal with additional topics raised by the members of the group, and discuss preliminary summaries of its work. It is possible that the discussion group will continue to meet next year as well, when it will focus on planning and reforms in different sectors of the education system (technological education, the matriculation exams, budgeting methods, and other topics that will have come up this year). The possibility of an international conference on the subject will also be weighed.
The sessions will be recorded and transcribed. The materials presented to the group, both by the lecturers and by its members, will be published (in a format to be decided by the group).
We anticipate that the discussion group comprising experts who influenced the Israeli education system in the past and present will yield valuable ideas and insights. The expected and possible products are diverse: a database of historical and theoretical materials on planning processes in the Israeli education system, starting in the 1960s; a collection of papers written by members on the topics discussed by the group; and sessions open to the public, with the participation of experts from Israel and abroad.