Education Ministry Funds Fewer School Hours for Arabs Than Jews

Arab students continue to score two grade levels below their Jewish peers on math, language and science exams.

Lior Dattel
Lior Dattel
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Lior Dattel
Lior Dattel

The Education Ministry pays for fewer school hours for Arab students than for their Jewish peers.

According to ministry data for the 2012-13 academic year, the Education Ministry pays for 2.9 percent fewer school hours for Arab students than Jews.

The largest gap is in middle school. For Arabs, the average number of hours that the Education Ministry budgets for each class, divided by number of students per class, is 1.63. For Jewish students that figure is 1.81 – an increase of 11 percent.

In high school that figure is 1.93 for Arabs, compared with 1.98 for Jews.

The smallest gap is in elementary school, where the figure is nearly equal – 1.69 for Arabs and 1.70 for Jews.

These gaps have narrowed somewhat since before 2004, when school hours for Arabs rose by 13 percent, compared to 6 percent among Jewish students.

“Education Minister Shay Piron has stated that one of his main goals is the advancement of the Arab population, and that he intends to focus on reducing disparities and on advancing this sector’s educational achievements," the Education Ministry said. "The ministry is working diligently on formulating a differential budget plan for schools, with the aim of reducing the gaps.”

Since 2004, the number of Jewish students in Israel has increased by 11 percent to 1.16 million. The number of Arab students has increased by 23 percent to 423,200. These figures do not include young children in nursery school.

Gaps are also evident in student performance, including on international and local test scores and with regard to matriculation eligibility.

Arab students test an average of two grade levels below their Jewish peers on math, language and science exams, according to the PISA international study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Arab students score an average of 372 out of 800 on math exams, while Jewish students score an average of 460.

According to the Adva Center, which provides information about equality and social justice in Israel, only 18.9 percent of Arabs who graduated high school in 2002 had enrolled in college by 2010, compared to 36.4 percent of Jews.

Arab high school students in Israel lag behind their Jewish peers.Credit: Yaron Kaminsky

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