JERUSALEM — The future of any nation is tough to predict. And Israel is not just any nation.
The intricacies of the self-proclaimed only democracy in the Middle East are staggering: the struggle to meet Palestinians at the peace table drags on, meanwhile leaving two hostile territories sandwiching Israel proper; the country faces an unprecedented lack of support from the international community; Israel’s socio-economic climate remains at a near-boil after last summer’s widespread protests; tensions between the growing religious sector and the stagnant secular population continue to rise.
It’s a lot to take in. So any effort to sum up Israel’s future must start at the source — where the minds of Israelis first form and take shape: its schools.
By examining the education system of Israel, the country’s struggles, failures and successes, on the ground level are apparent. Predictions about the future of four of the country’s major issues — the religious-secular divide, Arab and Jew relations, Israel’s socioeconomic inequality and the country’s place in the modern world — can be made.
The Ministry of Education’s goals for the country’s future were summed up by its 15-point plan initiated at the outset of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in 2009. The plan was a massive overhaul of what the Ministry saw as the flaws in Israeli education, and included several initiatives: introducing more technology into the classroom, working to internationalize Israeli schools and, as three-time former Minister of Education Dr. Shimshon Shoshani told the Chronicle, “Using affirmative action toward low socioeconomic areas of Israel to push them forward.”