By Andrew Friedman/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – About 60 ministers of education from a range of OECD countries gathered Sunday in Jerusalem for a three-day program to explore Israel’s culture of entrepreneurship.
Participants in the Global Education Industry Summit, hosted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, said that Europe’s business culture has largely stagnated in recent years. They added that for economies looking to develop tools for a rapidly changing technology marketplace of, Israel provides a model.
“We’ll we have to find ways to bolster innovation in Europe,” said Bartek Lessaer, policy analyst for the European Commission Directorate General for Education and Culture told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “We’ve been stagnating for several years. We know the Israeli economy has been very innovative – we’re here to learn how things are done here. We’d like to learn more about the linkage between business and public investment, and more efficient ways of engaging public money to stimulate new solutions to old problems.
Speakers at the opening plenum session at the Israel Arts and Science Academy campus in Jerusalem included Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Nobel Laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann and concluded with a panel discussion featuring school principal Itai Benovitch and two honor role students.
Asked about the nature of Israel’s start-up culture – several delegates noted that many countries pride themselves on advanced science education programs, but have not developed the same reputation for technology advancement – Bennett and Aumann pointed to elements of the Israeli experience to explain the discrepancy.
“Israel is the number two superpower in the technology world, after California,” said Prof. Aumann. “Compare our story to China: They have an outstanding engineering curriculum, but there is a lack in basic science education. But basic, fundamental science is the driving factor here – it creates curiosity and wonder. Those things bubble up and inspire questions, which inspire people to apply [their knowledge].”
Education Minister Bennett then apologized to the professor for an “open display of Israeli ‘chutzpah’, saying the country’s entrepreneurial culture is a byproduct of a culture norm in Israel that are largely absent overseas.
“First of all, we are trained to question authority here. We foster a culture of debate, and young people are expected to have confidence that their ideas have value.
“Second, When I served in an elite commando unit in the IDF, we were trained to deal with hostage situations. If the door was locked, we were expected to go in through the window. If the window wouldn’t open, we had to drill a hole in the roof. If that didn’t work – well, we had to do something else. The expectation was clear: Get It Done was the expectation. Period.
“That is the secret of the start-nation,” said Bennett.TPS / Tazpit News Agency