Israel Lags Behind OECD Countries in Education Due to Gaps between Arab and Jewish Communities

Date: 2016/12/12
Israel lags behind OECD countries in education, largely due to discriminatory Ministry of Education policies. Budget allocations to the Arab community fall short by at least NIS 1.4 billion annually.

Israel lags behind OECD countries in education, according to the 2015 PISA results. Israel ranked in the bottom quartile in math, reading, and science, largely due to widening gaps and discrimination between the Arab and Jewish communities. A report by the National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education revealed that 45% of Arab students were “low achievers” in all three subjects on PISA’s scale, compared to just 12% of Jewish students. While Jewish students surpassed OECD averages in reading and mathematics, Arab students in Israel scored far below the lowest-ranked OECD country in each.


Due to discriminatory Ministry of Education policies, budget allocations to the Arab community fall short by at least NIS 1.4 billion annually, according to a Mossawa report circulated at a meeting discussing the ministry’s budget with the Knesset Finance Committee. The report analyzed data published by the Ministry of Finance and was circulated among members of the Knesset.


While Jewish students’ scores have improved markedly in the last five years, Arab students’ scores have stagnated. 64% of Arab students failed the mathematics exam and 56% failed the reading test.Israel has failed to invest in Arab students, so Arab students struggle to keep up with their Jewish peers. Without the resources necessary to help struggling students and challenge advanced pupils, Arab students will not be able to achieve to their highest potential.  Arab schools suffer from classroom shortages, high dropout rates, lack of informal education opportunities, and lackluster teacher training.


At each level of education, Jewish students from low socioeconomic brackets receive more funding than similarly disadvantaged Arab students. The gap stands at about 30% in primary education, approximately 50% in middle schools, and 75% in high school. Low educational achievement prevents Arab students from advancing to universities and, later, entering lucrative career fields. Unequal access to education is a barrier to socioeconomic development in the Arab sector and infringes on Arab students’ right to learn.


The Mossawa Center appealed to members of the Finance Committee to increase the Ministry of Education’s budget for the Arab population to close the gaps between the Arab and Jewish communities. Mossawa staff distributed a report detailing the budgetary needs of the Arab population in preparation for the 5 December 2016 meeting with the Finance Committee and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett.


Mossawa calls on the Finance Committee to address gaps between the Jewish and Arab populations and ensure all children in Israel have equal access to a quality education.

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