Education Minister Naftali Bennett has pushed for smaller class sizes with more opportunities for one-on-one instruction.

Bennett also has shifted the focus of the English curriculum from literary to practical spoken and written English, which he believes is increasingly essential in the modern world.

He has explored ways to encourage Israel’s English-speaking community to become English teachers, including potential partnerships with the Association of American and Canadians in Israel.

“It’s easier to train an English-speaking person to teach English than a non-native English-speaker,” Bennett says.

In February, Masa Israel Journey and the Education Ministry announced plans to double the number of participants in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program beginning this year. The expansion will bring 300 young professionals into classrooms across Israel to teach English as a second language.

Masa participants teach throughout the country, though there is a focus on the lowest performing schools which require additional support.

“WE KNOW that for a child entering first grade today, when that child enters the labor market in about 20 years, half of the jobs today will not exist, but [will be] replaced by new occupations,” says Bennett. “How do we prepare a child for such a world of uncertainty? We focus on skills and competencies, on initiative, teamwork, breaking the rules in an organized way – being curious, reading English – these are the skills we have to provide our kids so they can be versatile and adapt to an environment we cannot even anticipate.”

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