The country’s educational system is set to begin the new school year on Monday September 1 as usual. In the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas conflict, which raged for most of the summer vacation, the first several weeks of the school year are to be devoted to activities designed to help returning students process and deal with their experiences over the summer, the Education Ministry said on Sunday.
Due to issues relating to incitement and hate speech that became apparent over the summer, the first two weeks of the school year are to focus on “a discourse on solidarity, the importance of the State of Israel and its value,” Education Minister Shai Piron said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, which was held in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council as a show of solidarity with the south.
While Piron noted that there is a need to “protect a culture of dialogue and freedom of speech,” he added that “inappropriate expressions” can lead to the “destruction of society.”
“We will expand the space for educational and ethical discussions, and lead Israeli children to a place where they deserve to live, a healthy and civilized society,” he said.
In the southern communities most affected by the Gazan rocket fire during the conflict, special activities will take place during the beginning of the year to help students ease back into learning after a summer largely spent in bomb shelters. During the war, mayors of southern towns said they would delay the opening of the school year over rocket fears.
A total of 2,105,394 students are to begin the school year on Monday, the ministry said. Of these, 149,705 are starting first grade, and 112,750 are starting 12th grade, their last in the state-run educational system.
Around 1,900 students are new immigrants and will be entering the Israeli school system for the first time, the Absorption Ministry said. Of these, 250 will be entering first grade.
Some 14,000 new immigrants of any age have arrived over the course of 2014, the ministry said, mostly from France, Ukraine, the US and Russia. The ministry estimated that in total, there will be some 35,600 immigrant children in the education system this year.