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Between 1995 and 2005 the growth in spending per student for education on levels from elementary to higher education was significantly lower in Israel than the average for OECD countries, claimed the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, last Friday.

Fischer spoke at the ceremony awarding the HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) scholarships for 2007 in Tel Aviv.

According to Fischer, the education system's poor performance is the result of four parallel systems existing at the same time, some of which do not even provide their students with a basic education in math, science or English.

Another reason for the weakness of the Israeli educational system, in Fischer's opinion, is a lack of managerial flexibility in schools.

However, Israeli education also chalked up a number of accomplishments in international terms in 2005. For example, 46 percent of those aged between 25 and 64 had post-secondary education, compared to 26 percent for the OECD average. Israeli research and development spending constituted 4.4 percent of GDP, compared to the 2 percent average among OECD nations; and state expenditures per pupil for pre-school and secondary education were similar to OECD averages, when compared to national GDP. For elementary and higher education, Israeli expenditures were higher than the OECD average.

Fischer said education must be the highest national priority, along with security, otherwise there will be an erosion that has already started to a certain extent. He also said it is important to improve higher education.