The Education System: An Overview
Author: Nachum Blass
December 23, 2019
Since 2010, Israel’s education budget has grown faster than the number of teachers; the number of teachers has grown faster than the number of classes; and the number of classes has grown faster than the number of students. These developments have made it possible to increase per-class and per-student allocations, improve student achievements, and bridge gaps within the system.
The demographic composition
The past twenty years have witnessed demographic shifts in Israel’s education system, most strikingly in the Arab Israeli sector.
- Following a decline in the share of students enrolled in the Jewish (secular) state-education system, the share increased during the past decade from 37% to 40%.
- The state-religious education system maintained its share of students, despite high birthrates, while the Haredi sector’s rapid student-population growth rate decelerated.
- The Arab Israeli sector’s share in the primary education system dropped from 28% in 2010 to 24% in 2019 following a decline in Arab Israeli women’s fertility rates.
- An interesting process taking place in Arab Israeli society (still limited in scope) is Arab Israeli citizens sending their children to Jewish educational institutions, in Jewish or mixed localities: as of 2018, there are 24 Jewish schools in which over 10% of the student body is Arab Israeli.
The resources available to the education system
During the years 2015 to 2018, the Ministry of Education’s budget increased by 21%. An examination of the budget implementation indicates that few programs grew in 2018 more than the general budgetary increase.
- The program that showed the highest growth rate was the long school day program (229%), followed by computer, technology and science programs (64%), informal education and Jewish culture (45% each), and Ma’ayan HaTorah education (that serves the Haredi Sephardic population – Shas – 37%).
- Between 2014 and 2017, the per-student budget grew by 17% at the primary school level, by 24% at the middle school level, and by 30% at the high school level.
- The percent increase in the Arab education system budget was higher than in the Hebrew system, but the per-student budget in a school in the Hebrew education system remains substantially larger than the per-student budget for a school with the same Nurture Index in the Arab education system. Students in the state-religious system enjoy the largest budgets.
- Israel’s rate of increase in per-student expenditure since 2005 was higher than that of the OECD (25% versus 9%). Israel’s per-student expenditure is equal to, or even slightly greater than, that of the OECD in primary education, but still considerably lower at the secondary level.
The study examines teacher wages and quality, presents data indicating that, except for in specific localities or subject areas, there is no teacher shortage.
- The average monthly salary rose by 63% and the hourly wage by 34% (there was a hike in the number of teacher work hours).
- Compared with other academic degree holders, teachers’ wages are low (for example, preschool teacher wages stand at about 85% of the average wage for other degree holders).
- While the percentage of bachelor’s and master’s degree holders rose among teachers, the average teacher psychometric exam score remained low.
- In recent years there has been a rise in both number and share of teachers who are general college graduates and a decline in the number of university graduates, but there is no evidence that one type of teacher training institution has qualitative advantage over the other.
No shortage in teachers, and the shortages that do exist appear to be limited to specific subjects and places:
- Between 2010 and 2018, the number of teachers increased at twice the rate of the increase in the number of students, and by 50% more than the increase in the number of classes.
- The percentage of non-certified teachers dropped from 18% in 2009 to 6% in 2018, while the average education level rose.
- The average number of hours of employment has remained unchanged; the number of students per class dropped; and the number of teacher work hours per class climbed from 52.5 hours in 2006 to about 76 in 2019.
- The percentage of math and English teachers teaching “outside their subject areas” also dropped, though the percentage of Hebrew teachers teaching outside their subject areas actually rose.