Education - Labor's Platform
As a party built on a moral and well-tested ideological worldview, the Labor Party sees education as a public endeavor by which its vision - both of the character of the State of Israel and of the graduates of its educational system - can be fulfilled.
First and foremost, the Labor Party views education as a central layer amongst the array of social services which the State must provide for its citizens.
The Labor Party will work towards the establishment of an education system which sees the dignity and value of every human as the foundation and basis of all educational activity. The education system must encourage the self-realization of the individual and transmit the values of democracy and Zionism which stand at the center of civic responsibility and social solidarity.
The Labor Party recognizes that the education system must create a suitable balance between citizens' commitment to national values and their commitment to universal values. To do so, studies of the humanities must be strengthened in the education system. At the same time the Labor Party firmly believes that the ability to fulfill a democratic worldview, and especially a social democratic worldview, within a specific social and political framework depends on the existence of emotional ties and mutual responsibility amongst the people who belong to that framework. Therefore the Labor Party sees two layers of moral commitment which must be educated towards – the specific national layer and the universal humanistic layer – as not only complementary, but as inextricably intertwined.
The Labor Party espouses an education system which will work, on the one hand, to develop and bestow a common moral and cultural core to all the groups which comprise Israeli society, and on the other hand, to enable different groups to cultivate and preserve their unique cultural and religious heritage. From the Zionist and social-democratic perspective of the Labor Party, those supposedly opposing characteristics of its worldview – the emphasis on unified government curriculum and the belief in pluralism – are actually complementary. For one, the functioning of a unified ethos and identity as a unifying social force depends on their ability to include, promote dialogue with and create proximity between different groups. For another, the ability of excluded groups to become an integral part of the wider society depends on them taking an active part, as equal partners, in shaping this shared cultural center. Therefore the educational worldview of the Labor Party sides with the strengthening/empowering of each cultural component of Israeli society not as a separating factor advancing the fortification of each sector within its own four walls, but rather the opposite, as an inexhaustible source of enrichment, deepening and ensuring strength for the overall Israeli identity.
The Labor Party will work to strengthen education towards equality amongst all people, towards peace, towards inter-ethnic tolerance and equality between the sexes. The Labor Party will work to rehabilitate and develop technological education, based on the recognition that the education system must create a proper balance and combination between its moral goals and its role in developing amongst its graduates the skills and talents needed to integrate into the advanced labor market.
The education system must ensure equality of opportunity in education, while recognizing that the implementation of this value requires socio-economic equality outside the school walls as well.
The Labor Party supports cooperation between the education system and students, parents, teachers, educational activists and youth movements. This must occur while preserving the status and authority of principals and teachers.
Public government-curriculum education
The Labor Party sees education as a fundamental social right and a central element amongst the social services which the state must provide for its citizens. Therefore the Labor Party will work to rehabilitate public education and strengthen it in the face of trends towards privatization and commercialization which have acquired a foothold in all streams of education in Israel at all ages.
In light of this the Labor Party will work to increase public budgets for education with the goal of raising them to an acceptable level amongst developed nations. At the same time the Labor Party will gradually reduce fees paid by parents towards their children's education and setting a goal of ending such fees entirely.
The Labor Party will work to promote the passage of a law guaranteeing free education for infants from three months of age.
The Labor Party sees education as a tool for endowing students with the skills and talents needed to integrate successfully in the advanced labor market. Therefore the Labor Party will work to include the core curriculum, which includes these elements, in the study programs of all the streams in the education system. The inclusion of this program will be carried out on the basis of dialogue with representatives of the various sectors in Israeli society.
The Labor Party sees education as a tool for endowing students with the values of democracy, tolerance and social solidarity, and bestowing the values of Jewish and Zionist heritage while recognizing the educational needs of minorities in Israel.
The Labor Party will work to enhance the status of teachers by the following means:
A. Strengthening the pedagogical autonomy of teachers.
B. Strengthening the status of teachers as educational figures and raising wages and benefits.
C. Direct employment of all teachers and ending the policy of hiring teachers through manpower agencies.
D. Raising the minimum requirements for working as a teacher and strengthening teachers' colleges.
For many years the higher education system in Israel has faced massive budgetary cutbacks, a destructive process that has led to the departure of Israeli researchers and lecturers for institutions of higher learning overseas, as well as a sharp decline in the quality of instruction and research in Israeli academia.
The Labor Party firmly believes that advancing an overall policy of budgetary and institutional support for the higher education system is essential to rebuilding Israeli academia's ability to lead Israel to significant achievements in the sciences and humanities.
The Labor Party will work to preserve academic freedom and the autonomy of institutions of higher education in Israel.
The Labor Party will work to increase the public financing of institutions of higher education. This step is necessitated by both the increased demand for higher education and to allow retention of a high quality research and instruction staff which will ensure the comparative advantage of Israeli academia in the global field of science research.
The Labor Party will work to stop the trends of privatization in Israeli higher education and eliminate the need for financing on top of existing budgets.
The Labor Party will work to establish a national fund for higher education, which will offer scholarships and tuition assistance to students and researchers.
The Labor Party sees the humanities and arts as a central piece of the ongoing effort to cultivate cultural life and creativity in Israel and to strengthen its affinity to Jewish, Zionist and worldwide cultural heritage. Accordingly, the Labor Party will work to ensure the continued existence and development of the humanities and arts in institutions of higher education.
The Labor Party sees the student community and its representatives as central partners in both setting policy for the higher education system and in developing programs for social involvement which involve students and lecturers. The Party supports guaranteed representation for students in the various institutions of the Council for Higher Education, and particularly in the budgeting and planning committee.
Informal education and youth movements
The Labor Party sees the Zionist youth movements, both in Israel and the Diaspora, as the origin and source of the growth of Zionism, and especially of the Labor Movement and its endeavors. Today, the youth movements are one of the institutions for informal, moral education for children and teenagers in Israel and spearhead the development of solidarity, responsibility and commitment to building a just and egalitarian society.
The Labor Party will continue to strengthen informal education, which, in its view, is an inseparable part of the education to which every child in Israel is entitled. Its support for the youth movements will be expressed in the following ways:
A. Significantly increasing the national resources allocated to funding youth movement activities, professional training and volunteer initiatives for a pre-army year of service.
B. Broadening the responsibility of local government authorities for the existence and activity of youth movements. This includes providing suitable buildings, designated budgets and manpower to enable this activity.
C. Allocating housing to youth movement counselors who are working in different communities, and especially in the social and geographic periphery.
D. Encouraging and increasing the numbers of high school graduates who do a pre-army year of service or preparatory academy.