Last week, World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, appeared before the Knesset’s Education Committee to speak out about the chronic underfunding of special education in Israel.
WIZO is fighting for equal funding to ensure that each and every one of our children with special needs and disabilities receives whatever they are entitled to by law.
In addition, Rivka was incredibly proud to be present at the Knesset to witness a unanimous vote in favour of a new bill for which WIZO has campaigned long and hard. This bill is set to introduce wide changes into early childhood education.
One of these changes is the creation of a National Early Age Council, which will set long-term, national standards in the early childhood education sector.
Among its many functions, the Council will set priorities, promote greater cooperation between organizations and institutions, and develop the quality of education and care in the early age sector.
Prof. Rivka Lazovsky said, ‘I am deeply proud to have taken part in the promotion of this landmark legislation. As a leading social organization in the early age sector in Israel, we must continue to support this bill and every legislation and policy that serves the children of our state.’
She went on to say, ‘I hope to see this bill advancing through to the next stages because as I always say – the quality of education in the early ages plays a major role in building the future generations of Israeli society.’
Every year, more than 25,000 pupils across Israel attend special education schools. About 9,000 of them are enrolled in schools that are operated by social organizations like WIZO.
These schools include WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim in Haifa and WIZO Vocational High School in Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem sponsored by WIZOuk.
For years, WIZO has been urging the Ministry of Education to raise the funding these schools receive for pupils with special needs to ensure they match the funding Government-run schools receive. Currently, this gap stands at around 30 percent!
Prof. Rivka Lazovsky spoke before the members of the Committee saying that WIZO students and their parents, who deal with immense challenges on a daily basis, are burdened with further challenges due to the chronic underfunding in the education system. This injustice seriously hinders the children’s ability to succeed in life and integrate into society as equal and contributing citizens.
It is wonderful to know that this speech had an immediate effect. Following this session Koby Hillel, Director of WIZO Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family in Jerusalem, was informed by the Ministry of Education, that they would comply with some of our key demands, including a salary increase for our teachers and paramedical professionals, which will match the salary rise of their counterparts in state-run schools.
This is excellent and very encouraging news! Yet the journey is still long. WIZO will continue to fight for equal funding and for the very best for each of our children.