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Why some Israelis give low marks to education minister's math plan

Not all Israeli students and educators are impressed with Education Minister Naftali Bennett's plan to increase the number of students taking advanced mathematics exams.

The camera focuses on a teacher with her back to her students. She writes a formula on the whiteboard and asks, “Who knows what sin α is?” One of the students responds by tossing a paper airplane at the teacher. At first she demands to see the student’s parents, but when the teacher picks up the paper airplane, however, she discovers that the insolent student — who happens to be former President Shimon Peres — wrote the correct answer on it. “You may amount to something after all,” says the teacher with a faint smile.

The ad is part of the Ministry of Education's "Give Five" campaign, intended to double the number of students completing five units in mathematics (the highest level) in their matriculation exams. As part of Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s “Startup Nation” strategy, the campaign has already angered teachers, parents and students alike, and it’s come under criticism from experts in the field. For example, Ron Aharoni, a professor of mathematics at the Technion in Haifa, told Al-Monitor that even students who pass five units of math in their matriculation exams “don’t have the greatest ability to think when they come to us.”

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