With few natural resources, it is little wonder that Israel has capitalised on its intellectual resources. Israel's literacy rate is over 90%, and about 30% of the population has had more than 13 years of education. The government oversees education, and one of its goals is to teach Israeli children to be responsible members of society.
After the formation of the Israeli state in 1948, immigrants from over 70 countries came to live in the new Jewish homeland. The state was responsible for educating the children of these immigrants.
The existing religious state educational system therefore had to change to a secular system that encompassed many cultural values and traditions. Religious state educational institutions were secularised and the government fostered tolerance, social responsibility, a love for the land, and the enjoyment of rigorous academics. The Ministry of Education also initiated special programmes to help immigrant children adjust to life in their new homeland, such as courses in Jewish history and Hebrew language.
Much of the legacy of tolerance and inclusion is still retained today within the educational system. It has been supplemented with a drive for technological expertise and skill.
Challenges to education
Primary and secondary education in Israel faces many challenges: There is a shortage of teachers in Israel, particularly for English language instruction. To solve this problem, the Ministry of Education shortens teacher training and places teachers into schools before they are fully certified. Certification is then continued “during the job”.
Though the state tries to provide a high standard of education in all regions of Israel, funding for Arabic schools is less than funding for Jewish schools. For this reason, libraries, medical services, and extracurricular activities in Arab schools are often not as good as those in Jewish schools.
The state system also suffers from large classes and disparate funding between urban and rural schools.