Ministry of Education: Boys to the Field, Girls to Dance

Etti Aflallo, Calcalist, April 24th, 2019

The mismatch between the labor market and the education system is one of the main barriers to better integration of women into the labor market. This problem has existed for many years, and even more than 20 years ago, it led to the enactment of the Long School Day Law in Israel. The full implementation of which has been postponed repeatedly. Today, it is applied to only about 20% of kindergarten students and elementary schools. Even in the schools where it is held, the school day does not provide a real answer for working parents because it ends at 14:30 on average.

During the period of the outgoing government, two measures were implemented that helped to narrow the gap between the school holidays and the treasury reform, but these did not provide a full response. The most difficult situation is in education for children ages 0-3, for whom there are no public services providing care or education. Only 23% of children in this age range are under state supervision in private institutions; the rest are educated in high-cost, private frameworks so that parents can work.

In addition, "during the tenure of Naftali Bennett as Minister of Education, there was an increased demand for modesty and gender segregation, which is prohibited under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and bodies funded by it," says attorney Miriam Zalkind of the Israel Women’s Network (IWN). Jerusalem Day in Kfar Saba, and thus the Jewish Culture Wing of the Ministry serves as a financial source for events without regulations on the way women or girls dress and without gender segregation."

In the summer of 2018, it was revealed that many schools enforced strict dress codes on girls, who are punished for breaking those rules, unlike boys who are not punished for similar infractions.

According to the Education Ministry's directive, the schools adhere to gender segregation during physical activity starting in middle school, while boys are directed to competitive sports and girls are not. "Participating in competitive sports contributes to the girls' sense of value, gives them the skills of team play, and teaches them to cope with loss. These are skills that will be relevant for the rest of their lives, and should be available to them," says Salkind.

In University, too, gender segregation has increased, undermining the rights of lecturers and students. Institutions under the supervision of the Council for Higher Education and the High Court of Justice, such as Bar Ilan University, violated the order that allows for gender segregation only in the classroom, expanded it to the library, the corridor and then the entire institution.

The IWN recommends closing all tracks that operate with the exclusion of women or gender segregation in academic institutions in Israel.