Soon 44% of Israeli Schoolchildren Will Be Chareidim and Arabs
By G. Lazar
Statistics from the government's Central Department of Statistics show that within five years, 44% of the school population in the country will be comprised of chareidim and Arabs.
Current projections show that during the period of 2001-2017, the size of chareidi educational system will have grown 91%, Arab education will have increased by 55%, the National Religious stream will grow by 25% and the general government stream will increase by a mere 2%. As a result, in five years time the proportional makeup of the entire school population of Israel will be only 41% non-religious Israeli, compared to 52% in 2001. The chareidi school children will then constitute 18% of the total as compared to 12% in 2001, and Arab students will make up 26% of the student body, compared to 22%. The National Religious faction will remain relatively the same.
Some two million students returned to the school benches this past Monday morning August 27, from kindergarten through high school, with the summer vacation shortened by five days. This is the maximum figure to date in the educational system, since the numbers this year are augmented by the extension of the law of compulsory education down to ages 3 and 4. For the first time, all children have free, compulsory education starting from the age of 3.
The students will be taught by 140,000 teachers in 63,000 classrooms throughout the country. Thanks to the new law, resulting from the recommendations of the Trachtenberg report, the 270,000 three- and four-year-olds will enjoy free education, though 50,000 will have to wait for next year, when the reform will be completely incorporated into the system. The teaching staff is expected to enjoy better conditions which still need to be worked out.
A report from the Education Ministry shows an increase in chareidi education during the upcoming year with a comparable decrease in the secular stream. While 671,748 students attended secular government schools in 5772, in this upcoming year only 668,692 students will fill those schools, a decrease of .5%. The chareidi stream, which includes recognized schools as well as independent chadorim, will have 288,640 students enrolled in this upcoming year, as compared to 279,039 in this last 2012 school year, an increase of 3.5%. The non-Jewish student population will have increased from 417,214 students to 430,518.