Education in Israel: Principal Laws Relating to Education
COMPULSORY EDUCATION LAW (1949)
According to this law, compulsory education applies to all children between the ages of 3 and 15 (grade 10) inclusive. This education is provided free of charge throughout the entire system from age 5. In addition, the law provides for free education for adolescents aged 16 and 17, as well as for 18-year-olds who did not complete their schooling in grade 11 in accordance with the curriculum. The state is responsible for providing free compulsory education under this law.
Maintenance of official educational institutions, however, is the joint responsibility of the state and the local education authority. Parents have the right to choose one of the recognized educational trends for their children. Important additions to the original version of this law include a prohibition against discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, a prohibition against discrimination in acceptance, placement, and advancement of pupils, as well as a prohibition against punishing pupils for actions or omissions on the part of their parents.
STATE EDUCATION LAW (1953)
This law determines guiding principles with regard to the content and procedures of State education and provides for a six-day school week. State education is defined as education provided by the state on the basis of the curriculum approved by the Minister of Education, without attachment to a party, communal body, or other non-government organization, and is under the supervision of the Minister of Education. The law outlines the objectives of State education with regard to universal values; the values of Israel's society and heritage; remembrance of the Holocaust and heroism; development of the child's personality, abilities and creativity; various disciplines of knowledge, science and the arts; physical activity; and culture and recreation.
The State education system consists of two trends: "State education" and "State-religious education." This law enables the Minister of Education to approve, at the request of 75 percent of the parents, an additional institutional curriculum comprising up to 25 percent of the existing curriculum, or an additional curriculum financed by the local authority or by the parents.
THE COUNCIL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION LAW (1958)
The law defines the tasks of the Council for Higher Education - the State institution for matters of higher education in Israel: To make proposals for the advancement of scientific research and regarding the establishment of further institutions of higher education; to accredit an institution as an institution of higher education subject to government approval; to grant permits for the opening and maintenance of higher education institutions; to empower recognized institutions to award academic titles; and to make proposals for the enlargement, improvement and mutual cooperation of higher education institutions in the fields of teaching and research.
In addition, the law grants accredited institutions the liberty to conduct their academic and administrative affairs, within the framework of their budget, as they see fit. This includes determining research and teaching programs, appointing the institution's authorities, appointing teachers, teaching and study methods, etc.
The Minister of Education acts as Chairman of the Council, whose members are appointed by the President of Israel.
SCHOOL INSPECTION LAW (1968)
This law states that opening and operating a school requires a license. The law regulates the conditions under which schools that are not part of the official State education system may obtain licenses, and contains provisions for their establishment and operation.
SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW (1988)
According to this law, the purpose of special education is to advance and develop the abilities and potential of disabled children, to correct and improve their physical, mental, psychological, and behavioral performance, to convey knowledge, skills, and habits and to adapt them to behavior acceptable to society, for the purpose of becoming part of that society and being integrated in the world of work. The law provides for special education for individuals between the ages of 3 and 21 - teaching and systematic learning and treatment, including physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and other treatments as they may be defined.
LONG SCHOOL DAY AND ENRICHMENT STUDIES LAW (1997)
The purpose of this law is to add study and education hours to the existing hours in educational institutions.
The Long School Day will be applied as follows:
Four days a week - eight study hours at least.
One weekday, except Friday - five study hours at most.
Friday - four study hours at most.
The Minister of Education may, with the approval of the Education and Culture Committee of the Knesset, prescribe a different number of study hours for the Long School Day in certain educational institutions or study classes, provided that the number of weekly study hours shall not be less than 41 hours.
Beginning with the 1997/98 school year, the law is gradually being implemented, according to priorities set by the Minister.
Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry
* Judith Cooper-Weill was born in Britain and immigrated to Israel in 1964. A translator and writer on literature and art, and contributor to several English-language magazines, her most recent work is a book on the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv, where she lives.