Jisr al-Zarqa, J'lem, Eilat Have Highest High School Dropout Rates

Central Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that Jisr al-Zarqa, an Arab village north of Caesaria, has the highest dropout rate in Israel.

Non-Orthodox Jewish towns with the highest school dropout rates include Eilat, where 6.3 percent of students do not graduate from high school, Beit Shemesh (6.1 percent) and Bat Yam (6.1 percent.) The Education Ministry's director for dropout prevention, Motti Benau, said the ministry attributed Eilat's problematic dropout rate to the percentage of residents emigrating to other communities.

Benau also said the 585 students who dropped out of Bat Yam schools during the survey period followed a problematic trend. He said the city's school system was undergoing major improvements and he hoped to see results a few years down the line.

Of the major cities, Jerusalem has the highest dropout rate at 7.4 percent. Benau noted that the capital has a relatively large ultra-Orthodox population, whose high-school aged students switch to non-ministry-run yeshivas. Tel Aviv, at 4.9 percent, outpaced most central Israel towns, which averaged 3 percent.

According to Benau, the figures show an inverse relationship between matriculation certificates and dropout rates. Dropout rates were found to be lower in towns with the highest number of students awarded matriculation certificates. The lowest dropout rates were attributed to small, relatively wealthy communities.

The figures were compiled based on seventh through twelfth graders who did not complete the 2004-2005 school year and did not re-enroll at the start of the 2005-2006 year.

The survey defines dropouts as students who left the Education Ministry's school system. Therefore, they do not reflect vocational school students (run by the Trade Ministry) or Social Affairs Ministry institutions (boarding schools or half-way houses.) These students are considered dropouts according to the survey even though they are in educational institutions.

The survey also doesn't cover yeshiva students in ultra-Orthodox institutions that are not regulated by the Education Ministry, which creates the impression that Orthodox communities suffer from higher dropout rates.

According to the figures, Arab and Bedouin communities have the highest dropout rates. Jisr-al Zarqa's dropout rate is almost 12 percent, the Bedouin town of Rahat registers almost 11 percent and 8.5 percent of nts in Kafr Manda drop out before finishing high school. Regarding high rates in ultra-Orthodox communities, Beitar Elit stands out with a 9.5 percent dropout rate, followed by Elad (7.8 percent), Modi'in Elit (7.3 percent) and Emmanuel (7.1 percent.)