Halutz (Educational Pioneer Program) | המכון הדמוקרטי

Halutz (Educational Pioneer Program)

The Challenge

Every year about 1,500 new teachers join the Israeli education system. About 40% – many of whom have high or excellent profiles – leave within the first five years of their employment. Among the reasons why high-quality teachers abandon the profession are: poor school environments and quality of management, a low social image of teachers, a lack of support and deep feelings of isolation, inadequate working conditions, and a lack of employments options and mobility.

The situation is all the worse in the social and geographic peripheries of Israel, where there is a severe shortage of teachers and vast gaps in the quality of education.

Project Description

The Educational Pioneer Program locates and trains quality educators to become principals and take other leadership positions in Israeli schools. Within the framework of the program young educators with high social awareness and a strong sense of motivation act to empower schools in the social and geographic periphery of Israel and to turn them into ground-breaking and innovative schools.

The program trains educators (or pioneers) over a five-year period that includes professional development and the formalization of an educational vision. By the end of the process, the pioneers have satisfied the requirements to become school principals.


  • To train a pool of educators as educational leaders and school principals.
  • To integrate high-quality and highly motivated human resources in the public education system.
  • To develop processes of educational innovation in schools in the social and geographic peripheries of Israel and to integrate them into the overall education system.

 Program Characteristics

The program consists of the following stages:

  1. Locating young new teachers with high social awareness and the motivation to create systemic change.
  2. Locating principals of schools in the periphery who are interested in leading significant processes of change and developing school leadership.
  3. Placing groups of pioneers (at least three) in schools.
  4. Matching professional guidance from the program for each school. An advisor accompanies the principal and the staff through the processes of change and innovation and the pioneers both as a group and individually in their development as educational leaders.
  5. Accompanying the pioneers and the schools over the course of five years.
  6. Creating a national network of educational leaders and pioneering schools that lead change.

In Practice

In the 2018-2019 school year, there are expected to be 300 pioneers operating in 60 schools across Israel with a direct influence over about 22,000 students. 70% of the pioneers are running educational initiatives in their schools, and 58% hold coordinator positions after working in the school for three years.

The program is currently running mostly in the north and the center. The pioneers began operating in the southern town of Beersheba this year. One of DI’s strategic objectives is to expand activities in the south and reach new target audiences with a full awareness of the special challenges presented by this social and geographic periphery.

The program’s partners are the Ministry of Education, the Ted Arison Family Foundation, an anonymous American foundation, Carasso Motors Ltd, the various municipalities, and school proprietors.

The Democratic Institute – society and education

Address: 149 Derech Namir, Tel Aviv 62507, Israel
Tel: 972-3-741-2729 | Fax: 972-3-741-2723


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