Dozens of government agencies are operating behind the back of the Foreign Ministry in a maladroit and disorganized manner, while the ministry's budgeted expenditures have been cut sharply in recent years, begetting a severe functional crisis, said a report published on Monday by State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman.
Although the number of the country's overseas missions has increased in recent years, the position and status of the Foreign Ministry as Israel's leading professional body in the international arena has diminished.
In 2019 alone, the Ministry's budget was cut by about 15%, while the state budget rose by 4.3%.
Ministry officials have examined in 2018 a move that will slash some 20% of Israeli embassies and consulates, without weighing the effect of such a move on the country's foreign relations.
Instead of the initial plan that would have seen 22 such agencies shuttered, the government has decided to close only seven, beginning in 2019.
The initiative has yet to come into effect and the considerable cut in the ministry's budget has led to a deep budget crisis, forcing its appendices in Israel and overseas to tighten their belts and reduce the outreach of their actions.
Most of the ministry's annual 1.6 billion shekels budget (as of 2018) is non-negotiable as it covers rent, salaries, and vehicle allowances, leaving a considerably small percentage of the budget for activities.
In his report, Engleman also presented enormous gaps between the country's ultra-Orthodox and general education systems.
According to the data, most of the highly religious school system's half a million students don't study core subjects that state-funded schools are required to teach, such as math, English, and civics. Only 3% of all ultra-Orthodox students finish their studies and pass their matriculation exams successfully.
The ultra-Orthodox students' scholastic achievements in routine growth and effectiveness measures exams are also significantly lower when compared to their counterparts in the general state-funded education system.
In addition, tens of thousands of students attend unrecognized institutions that are not supervised by the Ministry of Education.
The report also found the quality of teachers to be very poor as most of them graduated yeshivas that only imparted them knowledge in Jewish scripture and religious studies. Most of them were not trained to teach non-religious subjects, that is, if they received any training at all. Some 95% of all math teachers in the ultra-Orthodox school system did not learn math themselves.
About 40% of the books approved by the ministry for the ultra-Orthodox institutions are out of date and do not fit the current curriculum.
According to the ombudsman, over the course of the 2017/18 and 2018/19 school years, the Education Ministry has reviewed over 340 elementary schools per year in the general school system and not a single ultra-Orthodox institution.
Moreover, the Ministry of Education has no information on tens of thousands of teaching staff in the private school sector.