Forecast: Only 40% of Israeli Students Will Attend Nonreligious Schools by 2019

Growth rates for Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews are slowing, according to official projections. And do the math: That’s where teacher demand is expected to increase most through the end of the decade.

Israeli school enrollment is expected to rise from 1.57 million in 2012 to 1.74 million in 2019, reported the Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday in its statistical forecast for Israel’s education system.

Out of this increase of 182,000 pupils by the end of the decade, about 40,000 will be in the Arab schools and some 139,000 in the Jewish schools. This reflects a growth rate of 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively, among Arab and Jewish students.

Elementary-school students will account for most of the increase, around 123,000. There will also be 63,000 more ultra-Orthodox students in all grade levels. The Jerusalem region will account for the great majority of the growth - 76,000 students - with 58,000 coming from the central region.

The distribution of students at the end of the decade will be 74 percent in the Jewish school system and 26 percent in the Arab system, compared to 73 percent and 27 percent, respectively, in 2012.

In 2019, according to the agency’s projections, around 49 percent of Jewish elementary-school students will be in “regular,” nonreligious state schools, compared to 52 percent in 2012; 19 percent will study at state-religious schools, compared to 18 percent last year; and ultra-Orthodox institutions will account for 32 percent, up from 30 percent in 2012.

Between 2001 to 2019 the number of students is forecast to grow by some 420,000. Israeli Arabs and Haredi Jews will constitute around 40 percent and 39 percent of that growth, respectively. While 14 percent of the additional students are expected to enroll in the state-religious school system, only 7 percent are expected to go to the nonreligious, “secular,” Jewish state schools.

But there are changes in the pace of growth in the various sectors: In Arab schools the growth rate is expected to decelerate through 2019, from 3.4 percent a year to only 1.3 percent. Even in the Haredi school system the rate of growth is expected to slow, From 4.7 percent growth in elementary schools over the past decade to only 3.6 percent growth on average in the next. In secondary education, the Haredi growth rate is forecast to fall from 4 percent per year to 2.3 percent on average. In the nonreligious Jewish state schools, the pace of growth is expected to double by the end of the decade, from 0.8 percent per year on average to 1.8 percent.

As to the demand for teachers, the demand for math teachers in middle and high schools is expected to grow to 6,484 teachers in 2019, an additional 1,745 more math teachers than in 2012. The number of English teachers needed will rise to some 5,300, requiring adding 1,226 more English teachers from the number last year. But in the sciences - biology, chemistry and physics - the demand for teachers is actually expected to decrease.

The Central Bureau of Statistics did not publish forecast numbers for the supply of teachers, so it is hard to predict the size of the teacher shortage at the end of the decade.

Lior Mizrahi