A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) paints a grim picture of the state of Israeli education.
According to the OECD annual education report, released Tuesday, which reviewed the years 2007-2008, Israel's average investment in students increased by only 8% between 1995 and 2007, while the OECD average is 42%.
Nevertheless, Israel has one of the highest high school graduation rates among OECD members – 10% above average.
According to the report, 44% of those ages 25-64 have some form of higher education, placing Israel among top OECD nations Russia, the United States, Canada and Japan.
Still, there is a drop in academic attendance among those ages 25-34 – a trend opposite to that noted in all other OECD nations, but Germany; meaning the status of higher education in Israel is retrograding.
According to the Education Ministry, the report reflects the fact that in the past, a highly educated immigrant population assimilated in Israel, but this factor's contribution is decreasing.
"Israel is rich in higher education, but its advantage in this area, which stemmed mostly from the composition of immigrant population and local one, is decreasing."
Israel excels in the number of high school graduates – 90% as opposed to 80% in OECD members. Interestingly, while the state's expenditure per-student is nearly the lowest of all OECD members, it stood at 4.1% of its GDP in 2007, compared to an average of 3.6% in other OECD nations.
Israel's educational system, however, lacks in actual classroom time: Elementary schools in Israel have only 755 teaching hours, compared to 786 in other OECD nations; junior high schools have 598 teaching hours compared to 703, and high schools get only 541 teaching hours, compared to 661.
The average number of students in the Israeli elementary classroom is 27.6, compared to 21.6 in other OECD member nations and junior high schools have 32.5 students per-class compared to 23.9. The report gave no indication as to high schools in this category.
Other grim figures reveale that Israeli teachers' salaries are among the lowest in industrial countries: A high school teacher is Israel makes $18,199, while their colleagues in the US make about $36,398. The OECD average is $32,563.
Education Ministry Director General Dr. Shimshon Shoshani commented on the report's findings, saying that "as far as we are concerned the data is not new. It describes a situation true for two years ago. When Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar and I came on board, we devised a strategy meant to improve the situation of Israel's educational system and meet each of the reports' sections."
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