Students in some 70 cities to get day off as parents step up protest against class sizes swelling to 40 children or more

First graders at a school in Jerusalem on Monday, September 1, 2014. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
First graders at a school in Jerusalem on Monday, September 1, 2014. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)


Parents in some 70 towns around Israel will keep their elementary school-aged children home on Sunday, as they step up a long-simmering protest against overcrowding in classrooms.

Dubbing it the “sardine protest,” parents are demanding the Education Ministry commit to keeping class sizes at 32 students or smaller, after complaining that overcrowding in certain schools has ballooned class sizes to 40 children and larger.

Among the cities where the elementary school strike will take place are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, Rishon Letzion, Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut, Bat Yam, Holon, Netanya and several others.

Several rallies are also planned around the country in support of the school strike.

Yitzhak Menachem, the head of the parent;s committee in Gedera, accused education officials of hoodwinking parents and refusing to implement promised reforms.

“We’re stepping up the protest because we are forced to,” he told the Walla news site.

The strike was organized by the Local Parent’s Committee, but is also support by the National Parent’s Committee.

Though Sunday marks the third to last day before summer break, parents have threatened to keep the strike going until the end of the year and to stymie the opening of the next school year if their demands are not met.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Saturday night that the issue was being taken care of but would take time.

“The strike is not the way. The crunch is real, but classes will go on as normal,” he told Channel 2. “The issue of overcrowding is on my desk and I will take care of it.”

Sunday will also see politicians take up the issue, as the Ministerial Committee for Legislation votes on whether to support a bill enshrining the 32 student per classroom cap in law.

The proposal has been brought up in the Knesset nine times before, but has never passed, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

As reported by The Times of Israel