Israel placed 49th out of 64 in a country ranking of student-to-computer ratio in the classroom, according to an analysis of the 2009 OECD Program for International Student Assessment periodic testing program on student performance. At 0.37, the ratio in Israel is similar to that of countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Panama and Albania.

The figures, which appear in a report prepared by the Knesset Research and Information Center, were presented yesterday at a session of the Knesset Education Committee that addressed the issue of computerization in schools. Yesterday also saw the publication of a list of high schools with outstanding levels of achievement on the computer science units of the most recent matriculation exams. Leading the list was AMIT Gwen Straus Science-Technology High School in Kfar Batya. Most of the schools on the list are in the center of the country, and in contrast to previous years no Arab schools made the list.

The international comparison was carried out for the Knesset center by the National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education, known by its Hebrew acronym, RAMA.

While the PISA figures point to a ratio of one computer station for every three students, Education Ministry figures speak of an average of 12.7 students for each computer.

The report notes a decline in the level of computerization in Israeli schools between 2006 and 2008, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. While there was an improvement since that time, the student-computer ratio is still unacceptably high.

In 1993 the Education Ministry set a target of one computer station for every 10 students in schools, and one computer station in each kindergarten. That goal is still a distant one for at least 1,509 educational institutions (with a total enrollment of about 780,000 ), and at many schools no computers are available for student use.

The report also found large gaps among Israel's local authorities; nearly all the communities with the lowest rates of computerization were in the non-Jewish (that is, Arab, Druze and Circassian ) sector.

Knesset Education Committee chairman MK Alex Miller said yesterday that funds must be earmarked for school computerization in a manner that will prevent local governments from diverting them for other purposes.

The committee members heard an update from Education Ministry officials on the National Program for Teleprocessing, implementation of which began in the current school year. The program, which includes providing laptop computers to teachers as well as projectors, speakers and other audio-visual aids and providing high-speed Internet service to classrooms, is being implemented in 220 schools in the north and south of the country this year. Next year the program is to be expanded to an additional 670 schools.

The program also calls for the appointment of a teleprocessing coordinator in each school who is responsible for the regular maintenance of the computerization infrastructure and other aspects of the program.