High school students in Givatayim, May 2012.
High school students in class in Givatayim, May 2012. Photo by Moti Milrod
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Around a third of teenagers who drop out of school receive support services from the Education Ministry after they leave the education system, according to figures obtained by Haaretz.

The statistics show that in the 2011-2012 school year the ministry's Youth Advancement Units, which are conceived as safety nets for at-risk teenagers, saw 10,232 dropouts. An internal Education Ministry presentation put the total number of school dropouts in 2010 (the last year for which figures are available) at 28,176 ­ nearly three times the number that received aid from the ministry.

The ministry claims that these figures have improved since 2010 but did not respond to requests for corroborating data.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics data, dropouts account for around eight percent of students in each grade. The Brookdale Institute, which has been studying the issue for years, has found that for every student who drops out of school officially there is at least one more "hidden dropout" ­ a disengaged student who is officially still in school but is alienated and on the way to dropping out entirely.According to the internal Education Ministry presentation, more than half of the dropouts who find their way to the Youth Advancement Units do so only after being disengaged from the educational system for at least a year. Only 19.5 percent come to the units within six months after dropping out, and 28.8 percent were disengaged for between six months and a year before turning to the units.

The ministry recognizes its responsibility for all disengaged teenagers ­ a duty that, as its presentation noted, has been expressed concretely in legislation and in cabinet resolutions. In 1989 the cabinet passed a resolution allocating educational and therapeutic services to disengaged 14- to 18-year-olds through the Youth Advancement Units, which operate in 151 local authorities and in 45 juvenile institutions, police detention centers and prisons.

According to the Education Ministry, the services provided to disengaged teenagers include but are not limited to educational-therapeutic counseling,  social-values education, and training in vocational and social skills.The Education Ministry said in a response that since 2010 it has significantly increased its Youth Advancement Units within local government, from 116 in the 2010-2011 school year to 160 in the 2012-2013 year, as well as increasing the budgets for programs that serve disengaged teens. The Hila project, which prepared dropouts for high-school equivalency exams, was allocated NIS 105 million for the coming school year, compared to NIS 73 million in 2010-2011.