Education in Israel is a precious legacy. Following the
tradition of past generations, education continues to be
a fundamental value in Israel's society and is recognized
as the key to its future. The educational system aims to
prepare children to become responsible members of a democratic,
pluralistic society in which people from different ethnic,
religious, cultural and political backgrounds coexist. It
is based on Jewish values, love of the land and the principles
of liberty and tolerance. It seeks to impart a high level
of knowledge, with an emphasis on scientific and technological
skills essential for the country's continued development.
When the State of Israel was founded (1948), a fully functioning
education system already existed, developed and maintained
by the prestate Jewish community, with Hebrew, which
had been revived for daily speech at the end of the 19th
century, the main language of instruction.
However, since shortly after the establishment of the state,
the education system has faced the enormous challenge of
integrating large numbers of immigrant children from more
than 70 countries some coming with their parents, others
alone thereby fulfilling Israel's raison d'etre as
the historic homeland of the Jewish people. The mass immigration
of the 1950s, mainly from postwar Europe and Arab countries,
was succeeded in the 1960s by a large influx of Jews from
North Africa. In the 1970s, the first sizable immigration
of Soviet Jews arrived, followed intermittently by smaller
groups. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989,
well over half a million Russian Jews have made their home
in Israel, with tens of thousands more still arriving each
year. In two mass movements, in 1984 and 1991, almost the
entire Jewish community of Ethiopia was brought to the country.
Over the years, many Jews from the Americas and other parts
of the free world have also settled in Israel.
In addition to meeting urgent demands for more classrooms
and teachers, special tools and methods have had to be developed
to help absorb youngsters from many cultural backgrounds
into the school population. Programs designed specifically
to meet the needs of the newcomers include preparation of
appropriate curricular aids and shortterm classes to
introduce immigrant pupils to subjects not learned in their
countries of origin such as the Hebrew language and Jewish
history. Special courses were initiated to train teachers
to deal with immigrant youngsters, and retraining courses
for immigrant teachers have facilitated their employment
in the education system.
At the same time, the Ministry of Education, Culture and
Sport, in cooperation with schools of education at the country's
universities, is involved in an ongoing process of bringing
educational standards in line with modern pedagogic practices
such as mandating gender equality, upgrading teacher status,
broadening humanistic curricula and promoting scientific
and technological studies. A key aspect of its policy is
to provide equal opportunities in education for all children
and to increase the number of pupils passing matriculation
Educational Television (ETV), a unit of the Ministry of
Education, Culture and Sport, produces and broadcasts scholastic
programs for use in school classrooms and educational/cultural
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 productions
to people of all ages through enrichment programs for preschoolers,
entertainment programs for youth, educational courses for
adults and news broadcasts for all. ETV is aired on two channels,
six days a week, for a total of some ten hours daily.
The Israel Center Bureau of Statistics reported at the begining of 2015 that during the past year Israel had spent 7.3% of it's Gross Domestic Product on education, significantly higher than the OECD average of 6.1%. This number passed 7% in Chile, Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Korea, Norway and the United States. The report also presented findings that one in eleven Israelis age 18-39 is enrolled in some form of higher education program.
The number of Israeli-Arab teachers in Israel's state schools increased by 40% between 2013 and 2016, as reported by Israel's Education Ministry in August 2016. According to the Ministry, 420 Arab-Israelis taught in Israel's state schools in 2013, compared to 588 during the 2016 school year. The school subjects that experienced the largest jump were english, math and science, which all experienced a 76% increase in the number of Arab-Israeli teachers. The number of Israeli-Arab Arabic language instructors also increased by 40% during this time span.