Online learning laptops still not provided by Education Ministry

As the coronavirus crisis continues to plague Israel, the necessary adjustments to schooling have yet to be made, with 150,000 laptops still unavailable to students six months after the beginning of the crisis.Head of the Child Rights Committee, MK Yousef Jabareen, demanded to know when the laptops are expected to arrive.  The amount of laptops was determined based on an OECD survey which showed that about nine percent of Israeli students have no means of partaking in online learning. This idea brought about criticism against the Education Ministry byJabareen, who claimed that by a survey made by both Central Bureau of Statistics and the Head Economist of the Finance Ministry showed that nearly double the number of laptops was needed, and asked why the Education Ministry did not conduct its own survey to determine how many laptops are needed for the students of Israel. “It’s a parameter that is difficult to determine, it’s like asking how many people have pianos in their houses,” answered Dr. Ofer Rimon, the Education Ministry’s head of technology. “Anyone can say whatever they wish, and there is no way to confirm it. We took an international metric which we could present to the Finance Ministry and check with the Bank of Israel, and they too assumed that this was the best metric to use going forwards.”According to the plan presented by the Education Ministry, half of the computers ordered should arrive before January 2021 and the rest by June 2021. However, one month after the opening of the school year and yet it is unclear when exactly the laptops will arrive. “The Education Ministry chose to take OECD data rather than use the more accurate data provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Head Economist of the Finance Ministry which show that the number of laptops required is much greater than shown in the OECD data,” said Jabareen. “And yet, even taking this smaller number into account, not even a single laptop has been handed out a month into the school year and only in a few weeks will the Education Ministry be able to tell us when they can start giving them out.”Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the government decided to reopen the school year on September 1, using a plan which attempted to curb the spread of the coronavirus in schools, in order to help allow parents return to their work place. Schools returned to online learning with the announcement of the new lockdown on Rosh Hashanah.

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