Israeli high school teachers end strike
( AP ) - Israeli high school teachers ended a two-month strike on Thursday after receiving a pay raise and government promises to redress some of the problems in the Israeli school system, including class size.
Teachers and finance ministry officials negotiated all through the night to reach an agreement early Thursday, just before a court order forcing the strikers back to work was due to take effect.
The walkout, which had idled hundreds of thousands of students, highlighted major problems in the Israeli educational system, which is bedeviled by low pay, outsized classes, a system loaded with bureaucracy and uneven levels of scholastic achievement.
A government-appointed reform task force submitted sweeping recommendations three years ago, but only a few elements have been applied in a limited number of schools.
The agreement reached Thursday gave the teachers an 8.5 percent wage increase in return for working longer hours.
Teachers also had demanded a reduction in class sizes, but the extent of the downsize was still to be finalized as teachers and pupils started returning to schools.
Israeli teachers earn on average about $1,500 a month in a country where the average monthly wage is close to $2,000, according to government statistics.