EDUCATION

THE POPULATION OF ISRAEL 5755 / 1995

Language and the Education System

The immigrants of the early statehood years brought diverse linguistic, cultural, educational, and economic traits that made the society exceedingly heterogeneous. Several factors have blurred these differences: the reciprocal influence of different cultures, the immigrants’ increasing tenure in Israel, development of the education system, and government policy. Hebrew has reassumed its role as the main language in all areas of cultural, business, and day-to-day life. Between 1948 and 1954, the proportion of Israelis who used Hebrew as their main language dropped from 75% to 61%; it climbed to 82% by 1972 and to 82.9% in 1983. The recent immigration from the former Soviet Union has caused an increase in the use of Russian, which often serves as a second language in official announcements meant for these immigrants. Nevertheless, Hebrew is the best vehicle to social integration. The education system operates in Hebrew and, in the Arab sector, in Arabic. Most Israeli Arabs are fluent in Hebrew. Illiteracy has declined but still exists to a small extent among older age groups, especially women.

Primary and Post-Primary Education

Israel today is a scholarly society. Three of every ten Israelis are schoolchildren. Education is free up to twelfth grade and compulsory up to tenth grade. The languages of instruction are Hebrew and Arabic. The Jewish sector has three main education systems: State, State-Religious, and Independent-Religious (ultra-Orthodox). The teachers, inspectors, and curricular matter in the Independent schools are not subordinate to the countrywide system.

The education system had an enrollment of 1.6 million in 1992/93, 15% of whom attended schools in the Arab sector. Among the Jews, 73% attended State schools, 20% State-Religious, and 7% ultra-Orthodox schools. Another 52,000 students attend yeshivas that are not part of the public-education system. Among post-primary students, 59% were enrolled in academic programs and the others in vocational or agricultural programs. Over the last decade there has been a sharp rise in the enrollment rate of children aged 14-17 of both sexes (Table 12). The main reason, in addition to Education Ministry efforts to stanch the dropout problem, is the growing awareness of education, in all population groups, as the key to success in the labor market.

Higher Education

Enrollment in Israel’s seven universities increased from 59,000 in 1982/83 to 85,000 in 1992/93. Sixty-nine percent of university students were working toward bachelor’s degrees, 24% toward master’s degrees, 6% toward doctorates, and the rest toward professional certification. In 1993 approximately 15,500 university students graduated: 72% with bachelor’s degrees, 20% with master’s degrees, 4% with doctorates, and the rest with certification. In 1982/83, 12,100 students were enrolled in teachers’ colleges (eight of which grant academic degrees). Another 26,900 students attended post-secondary institutions (some of which grant bachelor’s degrees) that train practical engineers, technicians, nurses, paramedics, clerks, accountants, artists, and practitioners of other occupations.

Adult Education

The average level of education among the adult population is rising from year to year, and educational disparities between men and women are decreasing. The median level of education, expressed in years of schooling, was 8.8 in 1970, 10.7 in 1980, and 11.7 in 1992. Twenty-nine percent of men and 27% of women had more than 12 years of education. Among those with 0-4 years of education, however, the percentage of women (10.1) was still twice that of men (5).

                                 Table 11:      Ages 15 and Over by Years of Education, Gender, and                   Selected Age Groups (Pct.)        |   Median  |                Years of education       |  years of | Year  | education |   0    1-4   5-8  9-10  11-12  13-15  16+  Total  1970  |    8.8    | 12.2   7.1  32.1      36.8      7.4   4.4  100.00 1980  |   10.7    |  8.0   4.6  22.8  17.1  28.3   11.5   7.7  100.00 1990  |   11.6    |  5.6   3.0  16.4  14.1  35.6   14.5  10.8  100.00 1991  |   11.7    |  5.3   2.8  15.6  14.3  35.0   15.4  11.6  100.00 1992  |   11.7    |  5.2   2.9  14.7  14.2  35.1   16.2  11.7  100.00                                         1993  Total        11.8 |  4.8   2.8  14.0  13.9  35.6   16.7  12.2  100.00   Age 25-34  12.4 |  1.6   0.9   8.9  11.5  38.4   21.5  17.2  100.00   Age 35-44  12.4 |  2.2   1.5  12.9  12.6  30.2   21.3  19.3  100.00   Age 65+     8.7 | 14.7   7.8  29.6  11.6  18.3   10.1   7.9  100.00  Total women  11.7 |  6.9   3.0  14.1  13.1  34.7   17.9  10.3  100.00   Age 25-34  12.4 |  2.0   1.1   9.5  10.1  38.8   23.2  15.3  100.00   Age 35-44  12.4 |  2.9   1.7  12.6  12.4  30.0   23.3  17.1  100.00   Age 65+     8.3 | 19.5   7.1  28.5  12.0  17.1   10.4   5.4  100.00  Total men    11.9 |  2.6   2.5  13.8  14.8  36.6   15.5  14.2  100.00   Age 25-34  12.4 |  1.1   0.8   8.4  12.9  38.0   19.8  19.0  100.00   Age 35-44  12.4 |  1.4   1.3  13.1  12.7  30.7   19.3  21.5  100.00   Age 65+     9.3 |  8.3   8.7  31.1  11.1  19.9    9.7  11.2  100.00           Table 12: School Enrollment of Children Aged 14-17,                          1981/82, 1991/92                        (Pct. of Age Cohort)                                                 1981/82   1991/92                   TOTAL                           77        86           Girls                           82        90           Boys                            73        83