Teachers’ Association in Israel
Moshe Kol Kalman
The organization was founded in 1903 at a teachers meeting in Zichron Ya’akov, convened by Menachem Ussishkin who was visiting Eretz Israel at the time. The aims of the association were to:
• Improvement of the educational facilities in Eretz Israel and standardization of the schools.
• Revival of the Hebrew language and the instilling of a national Jewish spirit into the schools.
During the first decade of its existence, the Teachers’ Association contributed greatly toward the establishment of the Hebrew school system. It decided to use the Sephardi pronunciation of Hebrew. The outstanding achievement of the Teachers’ Association was the establishment of Hebrew as the language of instruction in the schools of Eretz Israel. The first attempt to teach in Hebrew was made by Eliezer Ben Yehuda in 1889 and teachers in the early settlements followed his example. When the central committee of the Teachers’ Association learned in 1914 that the Board of Governors of the Haifa Technion had decided that the language of instruction in the new institution would be in German, they declared a boycott of the institutions.
In 1925, the Teachers’ Association called its first strike because their salary were late due to financial difficulties of the Zionist Organization. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the kindergartens and elementary schools became state-controlled and the teachers became state employees.
Among the important achievements of the association are:
• The linking of the teachers’ salaries to those of other university graduates in Israel
• The reduction of over crowding in classes
Commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Hebrew Teachers’ Association and publicizes the “Honor Your Teacher Project.”
- Compensation for teachers on extension courses
- The application of the Pension Law to teachers.
In the 1930s the association set up branches and affiliated groups were established for kindergarten teachers, secondary school teachers and headmasters. In 1951 Arab teachers joined the association and a special department was opened for them.
In 1957 a joint committee was formed by the Teachers’ Association and the Ministry of Education to plan teachers’ extension courses and their administration and inspection. In 1951 the association established contacts with international teachers’ associations and in 1961 it was the host to the Conference of the Federation of Teachers’ Associations. In 1959 the association set up a central archive documenting the history of Hebrew education.
In 1968 it had a membership of approximately 20,000 elementary school teachers, 3000 kindergarten teachers, 3000 secondary school teachers, 2000 Arab members, 700 instructors at teachers’ training colleges and 500 school inspectors. By 2005 it had 100,000 members making it the largest trade union in Israel.