Study: Almost Half of Israel’s Schoolchildren Will Be ultra-Orthodox or Arab by 2017

Forecast issued by Central Bureau of Statistics also reveals lack of younger teachers, as over the past decade the ratio of teachers aged 50 and over has grown.

Arab and ultra-Orthodox pupils will make up 44 percent of the educational system within five years, according to a forecast issued Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics to mark the start of the 2012/13 school year.

The data shows that between the years 2013-2017 the number of pupils in grades 1 to 12 will increase from 1.58 million in 2013 to 1.695 million in 2017. This is a cumulative increase of 7.3 percent and an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent.

As expected, the fastest growth will be in the ultra-Orthodox sector (3.7 percent a year), compared to the national-religious schools (2.5 percent), Arab sector (1.5 percent) and the state secular schools (1.1 percent).

According to the forecast, state secular pupils will still constitute the largest group, with 41 percent of the system in 2017. But by then Arab pupils will comprise 26 percent of the system, ultra-Orthodox pupils, 18 percent, and state religious pupils, 14 percent.

A worrisome trend can be seen in the data that relates to the profile of Israeli teachers. As a group teachers are getting older and are not replaced by younger teachers. According to the CBS, over the past decade the ratio of teachers aged 50 and over has grown; teachers this age are increasingly typical in the Jewish sector in general and in high schools in particular, where 45 percent of the teachers were aged 50 and over in 2011, compared to 33 percent in 2001.

On the other hand, there has been a significant uptrend in the ratio of teachers with advanced academic degrees (master’s degrees or PhDs). Here, however, social gaps are visable: While in the Jewish sector the ratio of teachers with advanced degrees in 2011 was 29 percent (compared to 19 percent in 2001), in the Arab sector the ratio is half that, with only 15 percent of teachers having advanced degrees (compared to 8 percent in 2001).

The CBS data also point to the failure of the system to reduce socioeconomic gaps: The ratio of those matriculating and meeting the prerequisites for entering university rises with the socioeconomic level of the community in which pupils live. The ratio of 12th graders in the Jewish sector (excluding schools under ultra-Orthodox supervision) who obtained a matriculation certificate in 2010 was 57 percent in towns and cities considered poorer, while in wealthier towns 77 percent of 12th graders matriculated.

According to the data, the higher the level of the mother’s education, the more likely her children will earn a matriculation certificate with distinction. Only 3 percent of those in the Jewish sector (excluding schools under ultra-Orthodox supervision) whose mother had up to eight years of schooling earned a matriculation certificate with distinction, compared to 15 percent of those whose mothers had a bachelor’s degree. In the Arab sector, the link between a mother’s level of education and her children excelling was even more evident, 2 percent compared to 28 percent, respectively.

According to a general analysis of the CBS data, in 2010 84 percent of all the 12th graders of the 2009/10 school year (including in schools under ultra-Orthodox supervision) took matriculation exams, and more than half of them (56 percent) passed and earned a matriculation certificate. It should be noted that this statistic refers to those in that age group that were actually in 12th grade, and does not include teens who dropped out of the educational system before reaching 12th grade.