Educational Inequality in Israel: from Cradle to University

The conference will address some of the factors that are said to be responsible for inequality in scholastic and educational achievements in the population at large, as well as between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Date: November 20, 2017 / 8:30 am – 6 pm / Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Heinrich Heine St., Jeusalem

The Herbert M. Singer Annual Conference

The conference will be conducted in Hebrew and English with simultaneous translation

Please register here.

Against the backdrop of the many ideological disagreements and struggles prevalent in Israeli society today, emerges a clear consensus on the need to narrow educational gaps. Many agree that education is the key to attaining success in life and believe that reducing inequality in education may, in turn, contribute to reducing economic inequality. However, despite the prevailing consensus concerning the importance of equal educational opportunities, Israel continues to harbor considerable educational gaps. The inequality in achievement between Israeli students is greater than in most other countries  that participate in the PISA project. These gaps have remained fairly stable despite considerable efforts by the government and the education system in particular, to reduce them. Studies show that gaps between the different socioeconomic strata in the odds of attaining higher education have also remained stable in Israel for many years despite a massive increase in the number of degree granting colleges and in the number of students.

Most scholars who study educational inequalities between socioeconomic strata agree that gaps between them are attributable primarily to two main environmental factors:  those that affect development in early childhood and school characteristics that enhance, maintain or attenuate inequalities in later life. In recent years, a bourgeoning research literature develops and tests the hypothesis that the effects of environmental factors on children’s development interact with their genetic endowments.

The conference will address some of these factors that are said to be responsible for inequality in scholastic and educational achievements in the population at large, as well as between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. We have chosen to focus on the following topics in four sessions:

  • A snapshot of the current situation: a presentation of up-to-date data on scholastic and educational achievement among students with different socioeconomic backgrounds, nationalities, and genders, as well as changes in the data over time.
  • The importance of hereditary and environmental factors in shaping the cognitive and personal development of preschool-aged children: a lecture by two visiting scholars who lead global research on these topics.
  • The role of vocational-technological education: a presentation focusing on differences in the future academic achievements and income of students in the various high school tracks. The session raises questions about whether vocational-technological education, of different kinds, promotes achievement or reinforces inequality between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and population groups.
  • Inequalities in higher education: a discussion on scholastic stratification among the increasingly diverse students enrolled in higher education. Since the mid-1990s, the proportion of students studying in Israel’s higher education system has grown substantially and discrepancies among them in persistence and achievements have increased.

The conference will be held in Mishkenot Sha’ananim (Jeusalem)
and will be conducted in Hebrew and English with simultaneous translation

Register