Education Minister Naftali Bennett appointed the members of the 13th Council for Higher Education during at a ceremony at the President’s Residence on Tuesday.
Referring to Mobileye’s recent $15 billion sale to Intel, Bennett said the Israeli company had pioneered a complete transformation of driving, and in the future, driving would be autonomous, allowing people behind the wheel to play with their cellphones or send messages.
Mobileye is the lighthouse that has placed Israel on a higher level of technology and pride, he said.
“When we ask where the money is, we also have to ask where it came from,” Bennett said. “Without innovation and higher education, there would be no hi-tech and no start-ups.”
Just as Mobileye transformed in the automotive technology industry, Bennett said he wants to see a similar change in higher education.
“We have to ask ourselves not only how things work, but for what purpose,” he said.
Aware that interest in the humanities is losing traction in favor of scientific subjects, Bennett stressed that relevance must be created in all subjects within the category of humanities.
At the start of his address, Bennett thanked President Reuven Rivlin for drawing attention to the need for society to become more inclusive, so that people will “be judged on their merits and not on their zip code.”
He lamented the fact that even in this day and age people are still judged for where they were born – and this influences their chances of success.
This is an untenable situation which must change, he said.
Opportunities have to be provided so that one day, a girl from Ofakim will have the same opportunities as his daughter, who lives in Ra’anana.
“We have to ask ourselves, how many Arab entrepreneurs, how many haredi entrepreneurs and how many female entrepreneurs there are,” he declared. “We can’t allow such a situation to continue.”
These three sectors represent more than half the population, he noted, adding, “Look at what we’re losing.”
He was happy that, for the first time, a member of the haredi community had been appointed to sit on the council, which also has an Arab educator among its members.
Rivlin, who will be leaving for a state visit to Vietnam on Saturday night, said that one of the subjects he will be discussing is academic cooperation between Vietnamese scholars and researchers and their Israeli counterparts.
Vietnam is well known for its academic research, but it wants to know more, said Rivlin, and as Israel is also known for its knowledge and research, Vietnam wants to enter into cooperative agreements with Israeli academic institutions.
Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, chairman of the council’s Planning and Budgetary Committee and the first woman to hold the post, said there are approximately 310,000 students enrolled in institutes of higher learning in Israel. She expressed concern, however, over the fact that haredim, minorities and members of Israel’s Ethiopian community have not yet realized their potential and said it is essential to give them the opportunity to do so.
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