CHALLENGES | PRESCHOOL | PRIMARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION | HIGHER EDUCATION | ADULT EDUCATION
Most hours of the school day are devoted to compulsory academic studies. While the subject matter to be covered is uniform throughout the system, each school may choose from a wide range of study units and teaching materials, provided by the Ministry of Education, which best suit the needs of its faculty and pupil population.
With the aim of enhancing pupils’ understanding of their society, each year a special topic of national importance is studied in depth. Themes have included democratic values, the Hebrew language, immigration, Jerusalem, peace, and industry.
The majority of secondary schools offer academic curricula in science and in the humanities leading to a matriculation certificate and higher education. Certain secondary schools offer specialized curricula, which lead to a matriculation certificate and/or vocational diploma.
Technological schools train technicians and practical engineers on three levels, with some preparing for higher education, some studying towards a vocational diploma, and others acquiring practical skills.
Agricultural schools, usually in a residential setting, supplement basic studies with subjects relating to agronomy.
Military preparatory schools train future career personnel and technicians in specific fields required by the Israel Defense Forces.
Yeshiva high schools, mainly boarding schools, with separate frameworks for boys and girls, complement their secular curricula with intensive religious studies and promote observance of tradition and a Jewish way of life.
Comprehensive schools offer studies in a variety of vocations, ranging from bookkeeping to mechanics, electronics, hotel trades, graphic design, and more.
Youth not attending one of the above schools are subject to the Apprenticeship Law, requiring them to study for a trade at an approved vocational school. Apprenticeship programs are provided by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor in schools affiliated with vocational networks. Lasting three to four years, these programs consist of two years of classroom study followed by one/two years during which students study three days a week and work at their chosen trade on the other days. Trades range from hairstyling and cooking to mechanics and word processing.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for school curricula, educational standards, supervision of teaching personnel, and construction of school buildings. Local authorities are charged with school maintenance as well as with acquisition of equipment and supplies. Teaching personnel at the kindergarten and primary school level are ministry employees, while those in the upper grades are employed by local authorities, which receive funding from the ministry according to the size of the school population. The government and local authorities finance 80 percent of education, while the rest comes from other sources.
Educational Television (ETV), a unit of the Ministry of Education, produces and broadcasts scholastic programs for use in school classrooms and educational programs for the entire population. In addition, ETV collaborates with education professionals at universities and teachers’ seminars in developing new teaching methods.
Dedicated to providing lifetime learning, ETV gears its production to people of all ages through enrichment programs for preschoolers, entertainment programs for youth, educational courses for adults, and news broadcasts for all.
Gifted children, who rank in the top 3 percent of their class and have passed qualifying tests, participate in enrichment programs, ranging from full-time special schools to extracurricular courses. A classroom for the gifted is characterized by the level of its students and its studies, with emphasis not only on imparting knowledge and understanding, but also on apply ng the concepts mastered to other disciplines. Children in these programs learn to research and handle new material independently.
Children with physical, mental, or learning disabilities are placed in appropriate frameworks according to the nature of their handicap, to help them eventually achieve maximum integration into the social and vocational life of their community. Thus some are taken care of in special settings, while others attend regular schools, where they may be assigned to self-contained groups or to mainstream classes with supplementary tutoring.
Responsibility for their wellbeing is shared by health-care personnel, psychologists, social workers, and special education professionals, as well as by the family and various community support groups. A committee constituted by law and appointed by the minister of education determines the eligibility of handicapped children for special education programs and facilities, which are free from age 3 to 21.