Schools Face Major Computer Crunch

At some 70 percent of Israeli schools, each computer is shared by between 10 and 40 pupils. A 2006 survey of 22 countries and provinces that looked at the student/computer ratio in schools ranked Israel near the bottom, along with Estonia.

The recommened ratio is no more than 10 pupils per computer, which is the case in 90 percent of schools in Norway, Denmark, Singapore, and the Canadian province of Alberta.

The study also found that that only 22 percent of math teachers in Israel reported using computers for classroom instruction. Only South Africa ranked lower, at 18 percent.

In Norway the rate is 80 percent; in Denmark - 78 percent, and in Singapore - 75 percent.

The Education Ministry is supposed to publish the results of the study today.

According to an official familiar with the data, they indicate that "instruction in schools is still outmoded. A majority of Israeli pupils sit in a class in which computers are not used on a regular basis for teaching purposes. The goal is not for pupils to use technology for entertainment and pleasure. At most they download movies and chat with friends, but don't learn with the aid of the computer. Their future use of computers will therefore be consumerist, rather than creative."

The Second Information on Technology in Education Study International (SITES) was carried out by the Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, which also oversees the PERLS study that examined literacy among fourth graders.

SITES focused on eighth graders and their teachers.

"Under these conditions, there is almost no significance to using computers," an Education Ministry official said. "At best, every pupil gets a few minutes to learn on a computer, and this in a country that is supposed to be a high-tech powerhouse."