Israel stares down acute teacher shortage as thousands estimated missing

Education Ministry says Israel could be missing up to 6,000 teachers but numbers believed higher; principals admit to putting off teaching core subjects to next school year, hiring uncertified teachers

Tamar Trabelsi Hadad|
The Education Ministry sounded the alarm on potential staffing shortages in a report published Sunday, estimating Israel is missing some 6,000 teachers.
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  • The ministry noted, however, that since research data was self-reported by school principals, the shortages may be even worse.
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    היום הראשון ללימודים בבית ספר ארזים בתל אביב
    היום הראשון ללימודים בבית ספר ארזים בתל אביב
    Teacher in a Tel Aviv School
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The ministry says that estimates may be higher since the available data often does not include teachers who are teaching subjects which they aren’t trained to teach, and teachers who are barred from teaching due to various reasons.
    Last year, the head of a powerful teachers' lobby pegged staff shortages in the Israeli education system a lot higher at more than 10,000 missing teachers.
    The education system has been grappling with a severe lack of manpower over the past decade, prompting school principals to hire teachers without proper professional training.
    School principals have long voiced their concerns about teacher shortages hamstringing preparations for the following school year but the ministry insisted the issue concerned only certain specific schools before admitting to the crisis earlier this year.
    Principals report having to put off teaching certain core subjects to the next school year. Some even admitted to hiring uncertified teachers.
    The Education Ministry said the survey was commissioned to help draw up a national strategy to tackle the staffing crisis and improve the quality of education in Israel. The ministry said it will keep monitoring the situation until the start of the next school year.
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    Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton said that "data prove that we are in the middle of a severe manpower crisis that only got worse in recent years and is putting the education system at risk. The crisis isn’t specific to one school or subject, but exists throughout the system.”
    Shasha Biton also said she hoped the Education Ministry and teacher unions would reach an agreement on higher salaries for teachers soon.
    “The fight over teachers' salaries and conditions is a fight for our children, whom we wish to give the best education possible," she said. "An agreement on fair pay to teachers is in the interest of a country aspiring to success and excellence. Our economy and society have no future without a strong, stable and advanced education system.”
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