Hebrew is the official language taught in school, and Israeli students begin to study other languages at the age of ten. The school year in Israel begins in early September and finishes in late June.
Preschool & nurseries
Preschool begins as early as two years old and is sponsored by the government. Preschool classes can be morning, afternoon, or full-day. They aim to provide the social and learning skills necessary for future academic success. Nurseries include three levels: three-year old preschool (trom-trom chova), four-year old preschool (trom-chova), and five-year old kindergarten (gan chova).
Primary and secondary education
Primary education is called elementary school and teaches students ages six to eleven. Students receive 30 hours of instruction from an educator per week. At ten years of age, students learn English or French.
Secondary education is divided into two parts: junior high school and high school. Junior high school teaches students from ages 12 to 15, and high school teaches students ages 16 to 18. Students receive 24 hours of instruction from an educator per week. Most of the day is spent in academic study, and students learn history, mathematics, science, language and humanities.
At the end of high school, students take matriculation examinations (bagrut). They must pass the exams for Hebrew and English language, scripture, state studies, literature and mathematics in order to be eligible for a matriculation certificate. Without a certificate, students cannot apply to university.
Types of schools
To fit the demands of its diverse population, Israel offers four types of schools: state secular schools, state religious schools (yeshiva), Arab schools, and private schools:
- State secular schools teach a standard curriculum. This includes history, mathematics, languages, science, and literature. These schools emphasise focus and rigour in study. Many state secular schools specifically design their programs to prepare students for bagrut examinations for university.
- Yeshiva schools have a similar curriculum to state secular schools, but they supplement education with studying the Torah.
- Arab schools teach students in Arabic and supplement Israeli education with Arabic history. Arab schools are known to have strict rules, and instructors have absolute authority in the classroom. Although the Ministry of Education tries to provide high quality education for all students, Arab schools receive fewer government funds than other schools.
- Private schools include boarding schools and international schools. Depending on the school, instructors may teach in English.
In all schools the curriculum is overseen by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The schools have a degree of autonomy in implementing the state's curriculum.
If you have younger children and want them to learn Hebrew, send them to a state school. If you have older children who do not speak Hebrew, send them to an international school.
Depending on the type of school, extracurricular activities vary. Secular state schools support extracurricular arts, entertainment, and school-related events such as newspaper and yearbook. In yeshiva schools, time after school is spent in study of religious texts. Various political parties also support extracurricular clubs. These clubs sponsor games, sports, and social events for its members.
The Ministry of Education has instituted a series of education television programmes (ETV) to supplement in-class learning. Programmes include educational television for young children, educational entertainment for adolescents, and education and news services for adults.