PM takes over as popular education minister quits

July 7, 2000

Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak has temporarily taken over the education ministry after its minister, Yossi Sarid, resigned despite a direct appeal from student leaders for him to remain in the post.

After a meeting between Mr Sarid and a group of student leaders, Lior Verona, chairman of the National Union of Israeli Students, said: "We asked him not to leave the education ministry, especially now when he has been helping us with reforms in the college acceptance process, the psychometric examination and the tuition burden."

As education minister, Mr Sarid also served as chairman of the country's council for higher education, which is responsible for determining policy governing the country's universities. With his departure, the ministry is left without direction. If the Meretz Party, of which Mr Sarid is a member, remains outside government, Mr Barak will probably hand it over to someone from his One Israel Party.

During his year as education minister, Mr Sarid gained the reputation of being controversial. His initiatives included the introduction of reforms into the Bagrut (matriculation) examinations and he helped launch a joint experiment with the Open University through which outstanding high school students can take courses at the OU, instead of at school.

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