Nearly Half of Israeli Students Attend Arab or Haredi Schools

Mevasseret teacher attacked just as school year starts; 1.48m students begin class across country.

Some 48 percent of Israeli students will be attending Arab or ultra-Orthodox schools this year, up from 39 percent in 2000, according to a report based on Education Ministry data.

The school year opened as scheduled on Tuesday with only a few local strikes, despite several threats over late summer.

Just two hours after 2009 classes began, however, a teacher at the Harel High School in Mevasseret Zion was attacked by several students from another school

The students also attacked police officers who were called to the scene. The police took two of the students in for questioning.

According to the Education Ministry, 385,000 children will attend preschool and kindergartens, and 1.48 million will attend elementary, secondary and high schools throughout the country. There will be 1,100 schools, with 57,000 classes and 121,000 education staff.

According to the annual report by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, in the last decade, the number of Arab school students grew by 10 percent, the number of students in ultra-Orthodox schools jumped 51 percent, and the number of National Religious students increased 8 percent. The number of students in state schools shrank 3 percent.

"The state must focus on the curriculums for the students that will soon be the majority," said the Taub Center's director, Prof. Dan Ben-David. "Rated against 25 countries participating in the OECD exams, the average achievement by the non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish population was at the bottom of the scale, while Israeli Arab students did even worse."